There are hundreds of natural chemicals in chocolate, and they affect our brains, as they emit neurotransmitters. These can affect our feelings and make us feel happy. The raw, unprocessed beans from the cacao tree are one of a number of so-called ‘superfoods’, so they belong in the same category as the humble broccoli florets that many children hate.
Cacao beans contain potent antioxidants more than can be found in green tea or red wine. Antioxidants are, quite simply, compounds, either man-made, or in this case, natural, which work to prevent, or delay oxidization and so they help combat the aging process and free radicals in the body, which can cause cancer.
Researchers believe that the antioxidants found in cacao beans can help to lower the risks of a stroke, lower blood pressure and the risk of cardiovascular disease, as well as preventing, or at least delaying prostate cancer.
Dark chocolate rather than milk chocolate is better for our health because it contains more of the cocoa bean than white chocolate. Researchers believe that the flavanols present in dark chocolate stimulate the endothelium (the arteries lining), thus producing nitric oxide (NO3). This, in turn, transmits messages to the arteries, instructing them to relax, so reducing blood pressure.
A hundred-gram bar of dark chocolate containing 70-85% of cocoa has various minerals in it, including selenium which is a proven mood enhancer. It has 98% of the recommended daily dose of manganese, 67% of the recommended dose of iron, 58% of the recommended dose of magnesium, 89% of the recommended dose of copper, and a huge 98% of manganese. It also has zinc, phosphorus, and potassium. Another plus point is that it contains less sugar than milk chocolate.
Caffeine and theobromine are also to be found in dark chocolate, but the small amounts of these stimulants are extremely unlikely to keep you awake at night! You can’t compare eating dark chocolate to drinking coffee with caffeine in it.
What’s the connection between chocolate and happiness? Well, if you have never experienced the pleasurable feeling you get when you eat chocolate, perhaps you should try eating a small amount of dark chocolate.
To make you feel better when you are depressed, there’s nothing better than chocolate!
It’s pretty common knowledge that chocolate made its appearance among the Aztecs as a beverage for kings. Cortez proceeded to pillage their country and take over their lands, which included the cacao plant.
Back in Spain, Cortez had no idea what he had stumbled upon until some enterprising chemists added sugar and honey to the bitter beverage and happily introduced a drink which became the forerunner of hot chocolate, ushering in the world’s love affair with chocolate. By the 17th century, Europe’s elite was happily guzzling the newly prized beverage (were waistbands expanding concurrently, one wonders). And with the promise of aphrodisiac, as well as medicinal powers, small wonder that it took off.
But, alas, until it was mass-produced in the latter part of that century, the masses could only dream about it, as the cost was too high and the Easter bunny only a far off fantasy. In the early 1800s, the Dutch discovered a process to make powdered beans less bitter and paved the way for our present-day cocoa, still called “Dutch chocolate.” Soon, solid chocolate was created, and Katy bar the door, Europe developed an insane Swiss, a country synonymous with chocolate, had a hand in creating milk chocolate and became the brainchild of the Nestle company. Sound familiar?
Not to be left out of the mix, American soldiers carried chocolate during the Revolutionary War, and it would sometimes be used as wages, when money was short (works for me). Once again, the value of the cacao bean was put into service.
Present day chocolate manufacturing in the U.S. alone is a staggering 4 billion dollar industry, with the average American eating over half a pound per month. Which might translate easily into that much in body weight gain!
Chocolate is synonymous with the name Hershey. Founded by Milton Hershey in rural Pennsylvania in 1886, it first started out as a caramel company. Soon Mr. Hershey branched out into chocolate production and introduced the first Hershey bar eight years later, with the express purpose of making chocolate available to the common man as an affordable treat. Not satisfied with just a factory, he built an entire town for his workers, and Hersheytown, PA came to life. Hershey kisses made their appearance in 1907 and were originally wrapped by hand, which required long assembly lines of women wrapping all day long, but the end result was worth it.
In 1926, Hershey’s syrup hit the market, and children of all ages could add it to their milk or pour it over ice cream. Not only a businessman but a philanthropist, Hershey created jobs for people during the Depression and provided for orphans at Hersheytown.
Numerous foreign countries supply the cacao beans to support the world’s chocolate habit, and the value of chocolate goes far beyond the lovable candy. Many of these third world countries depend upon their cacao bean exports. Case in point, the tiny island of Playon Chico, off the coast of Panama, is welcoming assistance from outside sources to increase its production. A relatively isolated people, they look to the beans for medicinal properties and are beginning to export them for much-needed revenue.
There seems to be no end to this glorious product called chocolate. In the U.S., candies run the gamut from inexpensive drug store brands like Whitman’s and Russell Stover, to upscale imports of Godiva, Lindt, Ghiradelli and Roche and everything in between. The original producers of chocolate and candies, Nestle and Cadbury, are still alive and well. (this author prefers Chicago-based Fannie May)
So whether you fancy a rich truffle, a Snickers bar, a handful of Hershey kisses or a thick chocolate sauce on your chocolate ice cream, from milk to semi-sweet, powdered or solid, bake with it, eat it straight or order it mixed in with your favorite coffee drink, it just keeps coming. And aren’t we grateful?
Who Wants To Eat Chocolate For Health?
You may be surprised to hear that eating chocolate is a great way to ensure an effective weight loss diet plan. Research conducted by YouGov has concluded that those who eliminate chocolate completely from their diet tend to put weight on rather than lose weight.
Why? Usually as a result of compensating for missing out on this tasty treat by eating more of other types of foods.
The survey which was carried out discovered that 86% of people who actually continued to eat chocolate were successful at losing weight.
I regularly write articles about eating a sensible realistic lifestyle diet or what I prefer to call an ‘eating plan’. This is because in order to lose weight and keep it off the eating plan needs to be a lifestyle approach to help stop the ‘yoyo’ diet effect.
Nutrition Scientist, Janet Aylott, commissioned the YouGov survey. The extensive research surrounding the survey found that “diet centered around food elimination are much more likely to fail”.
MEN – there is even more good news!
Eating chocolate may actually help you to live longer. This information comes from a Harvard University team that conducted a study over 65 years. It included 8000 men who ate chocolate up to three times per month. It found that these men lived almost a year longer as opposed to those who did not.
This research team concluded Cocoa contains antioxidants called polyphenols. This antioxidant is also found in red wine. Polyphenol helps prevent the oxidation of harmful cholesterol.
So go ahead and enjoy eating chocolate. It not only may help prolong your life but will help you achieve your weight loses goals for life!
Dust off the chocolate cookbooks, involve the kids, and start making some tasty chocolate treats at home. This is a great way to teach children about sensible eating habits. There is a tonne of learning opportunities in cooking with children also. Gathering all the ingredients necessary to make it, measuring instruments such as jugs and measuring spoons, etc.
Take the opportunity to talk to children. I often get the great conversation out of kids when they are pre-occupied with something they love. Cooking is a great way to spend time with them and strengthen parent bonds.
This delightful treat is still calorie-dense but is super healthy so keep serving sizes small and use as a mid-afternoon tasty treat to see you through to dinner.
This great news is that the fudge is lower in calories and sugar than your typical fudge bought in a store.
Are you on a Diet Plan or a Diet Fad?
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