It will soon be Valentine's Day. It is the perfect reason to review one of my favorite topics: chocolate, dark chocolate to be exact. Though I have been aware of it it for quite awhile, recent studies have further confirmed and expanded on the multiple health benefits of chocolate. In fact, cocoa and chocolate products have been used as medicine in many cultures for centuries. Here is a brief overview of what numerous scientific studies have shown:
Altogether, this means that by regularly eating cocoa, you will cut your appetite, increase your body’s potential to burn fat, and directly push fat out of your fat cells!
What is the best way to consume it?
Remember, only dark chocolate with at least 70 percent cacao (or cocoa, which is cacao in its roasted ground form) will have significant amounts of cocoa in it. Cocoa powder is 100% cocoa, and thus you will get the most amount of cocoa per calorie by using it. Cocoa nibs are another option, see below for details. Because cocoa is not sweet and considered not as tasty, you can add it to foods to make it more palatable. Cocoa powder can be added to coffee. You can also add it to skim milk or milk alternatives in a blender or shaker. Personally I like to sprinkle some in with my oatmeal.
Ok back to the Valentine’s Day part.
Eating chocolate leads to higher levels of desire, arousal, and sexual satisfaction according to a study from an Italian university reported in The Journal of Sexual Medicine. Female participants who consumed at least one square of chocolate a day experienced more active libidos and better overall sexual function than those who didn't indulge. It contains a compound called phenylethylamine (PEA), which releases the same mood-altering endorphins that flood our bodies during sex and intensify feelings of attraction between two people. Although the amount of PEA absorbed from a few squares is most likely mild and fleeting, one thing is for sure—eating chocolate makes us happy.
I am intrigued by a new chocolate I recently came across; Innocent Chocolate. I had read a few articles about them and was interested. So I emailed them with my questions about how they were different than other “healthier” chocolates on the market. I have now ordered some to taste test. I will post my feedback soon. It is definitely promising. Here is what they have to say about Innocent Chocolate
Innocent Chocolate™ is even better for you than other dark chocolates because we add extracts and fat-binding plant fiber, plus enzyme inhibitors from sea vegetables. The extract slows enzyme activity of sugar and starch carbs, helping block their absorption, and preventing spikes in blood glucose levels. And our plant fiber binds the tails of fatty acids so your enzymes can’t grip or digest them. You get the smooth and creamy taste of the fat, but you don’t absorb it. You digest ZERO NET CALORIES. ( They had me at zero :)
When I first heard of Cocoa nibs I had no idea what a nib was. Cacao nibs are basically raw chocolate, pieces of cacao beans that have been roasted, hulled, prepped and processed into bars.
Nibs, on their own, taste vaguely similar to roasted coffee beans. Nibs are a bit crunchier than coffee beans, since some coffee beans can become quite delicate after roasting, but give primarily the same textural effect when covered in chocolate. Cacao nibs are always found in small pieces, rather than coffee bean-sized pieces. The flavor is slightly nutty and, while there are definitely some chocolate notes in there, they are primarily going to contribute texture and a hint of bitterness (think raw cocoa powder). Cacao nibs draw out darker notes in chocolate, which is why they are such a popular addition to products.
The cacao nibs are also sugar-free and contain 11 grams of fiber per ounce.
Citrus and Chocolate - elaborate versions with lemon yogurt and pepper or lemon oil
Vegetables in Chocolate - although still niche, there has been a launch of vegetable chocolates especially in Asia, purple sweet potato chocolate, edamame covered with chocolate and wasabi chocolate among others.
Floral Chocolate - such as hibiscus peach and rose chili, delicious!
Whatever form you choose to fulfill your chocolate quota, as with all things, moderation is key . Dark chocolate should be incorporated as part of a balanced and healthy overall diet. See you on the dark side.
This blog was created to provide information as it relates to skin, body and food health.