Chocolate

chocolate

Chocolate

Velvet fruit, exquisite square
I hold up to sniff
between finger and thumb –

how you numb me
with your rich attentions!
If I don’t eat you quickly,

you’ll melt in my palm.
Pleasure seeker, if i let you
you’d liquefy everywhere.

Knotted smoke, dark punch
of earth and night and leaf,
for a taste of you

any woman would gladly
crumble to ruin.
Enough chatter: I am ready

to fall in love!

Rita Dove 2004

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the botanical name for cocoa, the raw ingredient used to make chocolate – Theobroma Cacao – means ‘Food of the Gods’.

In addition to being extremely delicious, cocoa boasts over 1,500 active phytochemicals, making it one of the most nutrient-rich foods in the world. Eating a small amount of dark chocolate (minimum 70% cocoa solids) every day is a luxurious and palatable way to improve your overall health. By weight, Cacao has more antioxidants than red wine, blueberries, acai, pomegranates, and goji berries combined.

Cocoa is a very rich source of minerals. It is the number one source of magnesium, of which roughly 80% of the population have a chronic deficiency. Magnesium helps burn fat to produce energy, aids in fighting depression, promotes a healthy cardiovascular system, prevents muscle spasms, keeps bones and teeth healthy and acts as a natural tranquilliser. Cocoa also contains iron and manganese, both vital for the production of haemoglobin and proper oxygenation of the blood. It contains chromium too, a trace mineral important for detoxification and the correct regulation of blood sugar. Cocoa is also a rich source of zinc, which is important for the proper functioning of the immune system, the liver, pancreas and skin.

Chocolate is good for the heart and circulation. The polyphenols protect the heart by inhibiting blood platelets from clumping together, which can lead to a hardening of the arteries. A recent study also found that dark chocolate can help restore flexibility to the arteries. And researchers in Finland discovered that chocolate consumption lowers the risk of suffering a stroke by 17%.

A small square of good-quality chocolate melted on the tongue 20 minutes before a meal triggers the hormones in the brain that say ‘I’m full’, potentially aiding weight loss. Finishing a meal with the same trigger could conceivably reduce the desire to eat between meals. In addition to this, cocoa has been shown to reduce insulin sensitivity, which in turn may prevent the onset of diabetes.

Chocolate is beneficial for the brain. Flavanols reduce memory loss in older people, by stimulating blood flow in the hippocampus, the area of the brain associated with learning and memory. Cocoa also contains two compounds that have a significant effect on brain chemistry: The first is anandamide, which evokes euphoria and clear, creative thinking; the second is phenylethylamine, a neurotransmitter linked to mood elevation and improved focus.

So buy the best quality chocolate with the highest cocoa content you can find and enjoy with moderation. You can also use pure, raw cocoa powder with no added sugar to make deliciously nutritious cakes, mousses and other sweet treats.

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13 responses to “Chocolate

  1. Thank you for that wealth of information on something I love to eat. You have put me in the mood to bake something with cocoa (right after I eat a square of Theo’s chocolate).

  2. I do like it when you go all technical on us!

  3. All great information. I do love chocolate one of my favorite shakes is banana, raw cacao powder and peanut butter.

  4. Is there a significant caffeine kick in quality dark chocolate? I used to enjoy a piece at night, but stopped when I felt that it may have been part of my issue with insomnia. I am extremely caffeine sensitive, so have to avoid it – even though I love the smell of good coffee brewing in the morning.

  5. It’s great chocolate has healthful benefits. Still my mantra is: don’t eat chocolate to be healthy. Stay healthy so you can eat chocolate (insert smiley face here). GREG

  6. Reblogged this on Chef Ceaser.

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