Friday, February 14, 2014

Five reasons to eat more Chocolate

I can’t imagine anyone not liking chocolate. I know someone who is allergic to it and I find that horribly unfortunate. I mean, the cacao bean should truly be considered a gift from the gods, and the more I read about it, the more I am convinced that it is our duty to honor these gods by consuming as much of it as possible in our lifetime.

Here’s why.

1. It boosts immunity and fights cancer – chocolate contains antioxidants called flavenoids which strengthen the immune system. And there is some evidence that chocolate may reduce C-reactive proteins thereby lowering the risk of contracting one of the many “inflammatory diseases” that plague society today. Inflammatory diseases are things like cardiovascular disease, certain cancers, even Alzheimer’s disease, and any “-itis” in the body: arthritis, tendonitis, appendicitis, diverticulitis….“itis” means inflammation. *

2. It can lower blood pressure and LDL cholesterol - need we say more why this is so important?

3. It lifts your mood – chocolate contains theobromine, a chemical found in the human body when we are in love. Love of people, love of chocolate – it’s all the same thing as far as the body is concerned.

4. It gives you more energy – chocolate naturally contains a trace amount of caffeine and we add sugar to it to make it sweet, and both offer a little “get-up-and-go” when you need it, like in the afternoon. But there's no reason you can't eat it for breakfast, too. Pain de chocolat, anyone?

5. It makes life sweeter – let’s face it, the stuff is great. And life is hard. And we work hard. And we suffer. Chocolate can ease our suffering. Therefore, we should consume more chocolate. (Think cold weather and a cup of hot chocolate - what that does to your soul. Mmmhhhhh).

There is one caveat, however, and that is in order for us to take full advantage of chocolate’s health benefits, it must be dark chocolate with a minimum cocoa content of 70% (milk and white chocolate don’t offer these benefits) and should ideally come from Europe where their processing results in chocolate with higher amounts of flavenoids. It’s the flavenoids that are responsible for all the health benefits of chocolate. So, nix the American stuff, or research brands made in America by companies that care about quality. The easiest way to do this is to buy your chocolate from reputable markets such as Whole Foods or your local health food store, or places like Trader Joe's and look for fair trade/organic chocolate. We're not talking Hershey's, Mars, Cadbury and the like, ok?

My absolute favorite chocolate is from Switzerland. I think they are Chocolate Masters (I capitalize this because they should truly be revered), even better than the Belgian stuff. If you’ve never had the pleasure of trying Lindt chocolates, you are missing out. I am happy to report that while once difficult to find in this country, it's now accessible in lots of places. Try Cost Plus World Market. There's a lot of other cool imported stuff there, too, by the way.

Here's a great article from one of the most respected natural physicians of our time, Dr. Andrew Weil, on inflammation and the ideal diet to combat it. He eats a square (how is that possible?!) of quality dark chocolate each day. No wonder I like this guy.


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