Death by chocolate? Well, maybe not so. You may have heard that there is a saving grace in that luxurious, seemingly sinful, guilty pleasure called chocolate. Well, here’s the latest scoop but I’ve kept it kiddie size.
Chocolate goodness starts as a sparkle in a cacao tree’s eye. Cacao beans are carefully fermented, as they have been for thousands of years, to yield the less bitter, much better tasting cocoa. Now, the next steps are what make it or break it for the health-promoting goodness of your favorite chocolate delight. Dairy fat and sugar can be added in varying amounts by our ‘friends’ in the food industry changing the balance of power from the healing cocoa to the dangerous effects of the refined sugar and hydrogenated fats and oils.
So, the more pure the cocoa stays, the better it wards off high blood pressure and insulin resistance (conditions that 40% of American adults have and don’t even know about most likely). The best advice is to select dark chocolates with a minimum of 70% cocoa and chocolates that list cocoa or chocolate as the first ingredient, and not sugar! Also, since both white and milk chocolate have dairy fat added to the chocolate, the amount of goodness (polyphenols) in a given amount of chocolate gets diluted and the amount of saturated fat, of course, goes up.
Now, I know I did title the post so that I would be able to rationalize your chocolate, but remember balance is key. As with any energy-dense food, cocoa and its derivatives should be eaten in moderation. So, enjoy one ounce of dark chocolate a day and here’s a tip to make it last. Take your rich piece of 70%+ cocoa goodness and place it on your tongue and press it to the roof of your mouth. Then, let it just sit there and feel how your brain becomes saturated with the flavor of the overwhelming chocolaty taste. Do not try to chew, bite, nibble or inhale any bit of this piece of chocolate. Otherwise, your brain won’t have it’s time to get its chocolate fill. Once you complete your mission, you might just notice that you don’t need more because you just took care of business (health and craving) in just a few pleasurable minutes!