On a morning show recently, I heard this health professional snidely remark, “Well you wouldn’t eat dark chocolate every day would you???”
Doesn’t she keep up on the latest info available? Oh wait, never mind. I derived mine from God’s instructions 6,000 years ago when God told Adam he could eat from any tree in the Garden except the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Let me assure you: the cocoa bean comes from a tree which isn’t evil.
I know, I could have waited until next week but hopefully husbands are contemplating Valentine’s gifts this week. So I’m passing along this suggestion now.
Sometimes I overhear, “Oh, I was baaaad; I ate chocolate this week.” Giggle, giggle.
Why is chocolate so maligned? Chocolate, in moderation, is one of the finest, nutrient-dense foods one can consume. The cocoa myth ranks up there with avoiding eggs and shrimp with good HDL cholesterol.
I follow a simple formula, if God says it, I believe it, that settles it. However in case you don’t, let me convince you of the benefits of dark chocolate.
Chocolate is a powerful anti-oxidant, ranking even higher than the acai, pomegranate and blueberry on the protection scale. What do antioxidants do? Let me count the ways:
- They act as a natural sunblock, protecting us against ultra violet rays and skin damage.
- It protects against ailments like heart disease, vision impairments, hypertension, diabetes and cancers.
- It assists in lowering blood pressure because chocolate contains natural nitric oxide which increases oxygen levels and relaxes blood vessels.
Chocolate boosts our mood due to its phenethylamine (PEA) content. This is a 50-cent word which stimulates the brain to produce the feel-good neurotransmitter serotonin. PEA acts as drug. It stimulates the nervous system and triggers feel good endorphins. (One reason chocolate’s addictive. It’s hard to stop something that makes you feel so emotionally good.)
But a normal serotonin level is important because it improves one’s mood, sleep patterns and increases libido. When one is low in serotonin, they’re usually cranky, impatient and could act erratically. Women who suffer from PMS often find themselves depressed, craving chocolate because serotonin levels are diminished.
Subconsciously you might find yourself searching for chocolate after you’ve had a bad day or are lonely. Remember it’s a treat not a crutch. Bring it into your home only if you can control your behavior around it.
Chocolate is an enigma. It contains theobromine and caffeine which are stimulants and yet reduces the stress-hormone cortisol, once again increasing serotonin, the pleasure hormone.
The nutrients found in chocolate are incredible: Potassium, zinc, magnesium, manganese, iron, copper, great fatty acids, good saturated and monounsaturated fat. The cocoa bean also contains valuable flavonoids, polyphenols, fiber and cocoa butter, (a great moisturizer.)
Chocolate even contains powerful probiotics which improve digestion and good bacteria to fight infection. Need another reason to consume chocolate? Believe it or not the antibacterial compounds will fight plague and tooth decay!
One of the best ways to consume dark chocolate is to place 15 semi-sweet chocolate chips in a small container. Eat one at a time, savoring each one. Don’t place another in your mouth until you’re done with the first one.
Another way is to melt those chips and slice fresh berries, bananas or your favorite fruit and use chocolate as a dip.
These are just some of the many ways chocolate benefits the body. Just enjoy God’s bounty without making anything an idol.
“The earth has yielded its produce; God, our God, blesses us.” (Psalm 67:6)