Once upon a time, way back in the day..
Well okay, not that long ago, but a few years ago, I was sharing a house with a friend, when on a typical single girl evening, my flatmate exclaimed that she was in desperate need of chocolate and, as I was venturing out, would I mind bringing back the necessary supplies.
Of course, knowing only too well the feeling, I obliged. Once at said chocolate shop, I pondered.. which chocolate should I buy? I thought about milk chocolate for about a nanosecond and then dutifully picked up my favourite dark chocolate, the darker, the better I thought..
Once home, my eternally grateful housemate, suddenly turned into a woman who, one might describe as crazy, not just crazy, but furious, incredulous, ranting even. How, could I bring home dark chocolate! I was then promptly put into a category of a minuscule and in her eyes, lowly 5 percent of the entire world population who actually liked dark chocolate. Her dismay was a little lost on me and seeing that I had been charged with the duty of buying the stuff I figured it was my prerogative, not only that I secretly like being in this tiny little minority of people on the planet that liked dark chocolate.
Which leads me to today’s article and everything else I am about to say about chocolate. Of course, everything good and pure about eating guilt free chocolate does come with a couple of little caveats. The first being it must be dark and secondly if you want to indulge completely free of guilt, then it must be sugar-free, (more on this a little later) but fear not I will provide you with options.
So, let’s get to it.
1. Chocolate is good for your skin.
Hallelujah! Despite what everyone has always thought, almost since time immemorial, chocolate is not bad for your skin nor does it for some inexplicable reason cause the nastiness of acne. The only reason why I can imagine this myth took a strong-hold is that we are all just a little bit hardwired to believe that if something is that good, it must surely be terrible for us.
Well, it just isn’t so, in fact, research has shown that long-term ingestion of high flavanol cocoa (dark chocolate) not only maintains skin health by improving skin structure and function but also provides additional protection against UV-induced sun damage. So, you no longer need worry that chocolate is not-so-good for you or your loved one’s skin. Strike chocolate is ‘bad-for-your-skin’ off your list of things to avoid. Post haste!
2. Chocolate makes you happy.
Well, of course, eating chocolate makes you happy, the way it melts in your mouth, it’s richness and flavour, words barely describe how wonderful chocolate is, sure; you knew that but what you may not know is; chocolate can reduce the stress inducing hormones, cortisol and catecholamines. Studies have provided credible evidence that daily consumption of 40 g of dark chocolate during a period of 2 weeks showed a significant modification in the metabolism of stress inducing hormones. Okay, I’ll admit stopping at 40grams of chocolate a day may be tricky for some, but at least you’ll be happy.
3. Clarity. Chocolate sharpens your thinking.
Okay, so now it’s getting really exciting. Mental clarity. We all want a sharp mind and as you get older cognitive function will become top of mind (pardon the pun). So, how can chocolate improve your mental alertness and clarity? I’m glad you asked. Consuming a small amount of high flavanol cocoa has been shown to widen the blood vessels and increase the flow of blood to the brain. So it can be said that Cocoa flavanols (CF) positively influence physiological processes in ways that suggest their consumption may improve aspects of cognitive function.
Consumption of cocoa flavanols results in acute improvements in mood and cognitive performance during sustained mental effort..
4. Chocolate improves blood circulation.
I like this one; it’s something that at some point in your life is either going to cause you concern about your health or that of someone close to you.
While the consumption of chocolate is by no means the complete answer to better cardiovascular health, it’s nice to know a little chocolate every day, like red wine, can assist in your heart health.
There is mounting evidence to support the consumption of HFC sourced from the bean of Theobroma cacao L, which is shown to have beneficial effects on cardiovascular disease.
So, an intake of dark chocolate containing high amounts of cocoa flavanols (HCF) inhibits angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) activity or in other words, inhibits the blood pressure regulating enzyme that can cause blood vessels to contract and narrow.
5. Chocolate suppresses appetite.
Oh yes indeed, could the news get any better! Why, research is suggesting that even the mere whiff of dark chocolate can suppress your appetite. How so? Well, current research indicates that appetite suppression occurs through eating or smelling dark chocolate by decreasing the appetite-stimulating hormone ghrelin.
It seems that while ghrelin disappeared completely after eating chocolate, it reversed after smelling chocolate, that is, olfactory stimulation with dark chocolate (85%) resulted in a greater satiation response than eating it. Now, I don’t know about you but I think it would be a bit weird to go around smelling chocolate all day just to suppress your appetite, but then again I’ve heard of much stranger things. You? Personally, I’d rather eat it.
Can you really eat as much chocolate as your heart desires without the guilt?
Okay, it’s possible to eat chocolate with your health in mind, in fact, it seems like an excellent idea and now with all this fantastic news, I hope I have set you on a path of guilt-free consumption.
But remember, all these benefits can only be gained by eating cocoa flavanols (CF) or in other words good quality dark chocolate that is at least 70 percent cocoa, which in my case is great because I really do love the stuff.
The other tiny little detail often overlooked is, most chocolate is full of sugar. So, if like me, you have chosen a sugar-free life then your options are limited, however, even if you eat sugar, it’s a good idea to keep it to a minimum and most dark chocolate has a lot less sugar added to it in comparison to the milk varieties.
But still, not to be deterred, there are ways to reap the rewards of eating good quality dark chocolate without the nasties, such as too much fat and sugar. You may like to investigate Sarah Wilson’s book; I Quit Sugar – The Chocolate Cookbook. It could be the answer to getting your chocolate health fix and indulging at the same time and with so many great recipes, you will be enjoying truly guilt free chocolate. I promise.
So that is it. My 5 reasons to drop the guilt of eating chocolate. How about you? Have you found a way to indulge without the guilt? Are you one of the 5 percent who visit the dark side when it comes to chocolate? Leave a comment; I’d love to hear from you.
See you next time,