Friday, February 8, 2013

Valentines Day - For the Love of Chocolate

Knowing sweets are bad doesn't seem to stop us from cruising candy stands and sweet shops . . . some disciplined souls walking away forlorned, others indulging with careless abandon. Then, one bright sunny day, our hearts were lifted with the announcement that chocolate may actually be a good thing. Huh? Chocolate is good for our health? Upon hearing this most welcome news, chocolate sales tipped the scales. The sweet side of heaven opened and was filled with the satisfied and harmonic hum of yummm.

Now the dust has settled and we are left with the cold, dark facts. Not all chocolate is created equal. Not all chocolate is good for you. Milk chocolate, white chocolate and middle-of-the-road candy bars are still loaded with bad things like over processing,white sugar, fat and hydrogenated oil. Milk and chocolate don't mix well since the milk in milk chocolate, "may interfere with the absorption of antioxidants from chocolate destroying the health benefits of the chocolate." Who knew? Dark chocolate, on the other hand, made with at least 70% pure cocoa powder does offer many notable health benefits. In fact, cocoa from the bean of the cacao plant offers a bountiful antioxidant effect that reduces inflammation (the cause of many diseases), lowers blood pressure, improves blood flow to the brain, helps muscles recuperate from exercise, improves the skin . . . and as if that wasn't enough . . . settles emotions and boosts your mood. Clearly, dark chocolate has earned its rightful place in the superfood category.

Long story short, remember this. Darker is better. Not wanting to rain on your Willy Wonka parade, nutritionists would like to remind you that while this good news tastes great, it is not a license to binge. One full bar of dark chocolate usually weighs in at 450-500 calories, and that quickly adds up. The recommendation? Savoring one beautiful, dark, velvety, luxurious piece of chocolate a day will go a long, long way. Enjoy the moment!