Most of us love chocolate. I still remember the movie Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and when Johnny Depp said “Every drop of the river is hot melted chocolate”, I could feel my heart pounding with enthusiasm and my eyes dilating with excitement.
The secret behind chocolate’s powerful punch is CACAO which is full of flavonoids (anthocyanidin) and mood-boosting compounds such as theobromine and phenylethyamine which make us feel good. It turns out that eating chocolate when you are depressed is not such as bad thing afterall.
Swiss researchers (who else?) found that stress hormones levels decreased significantly when anxious people consumed about 1-2 squares of dark choc everyday. So after a break up, grab a dark choc bar rather than a box of tissues. Drinking hot chocolate could even help you do much better at work or school. Those flavonoids boost blood flow to your brain for 2 to 3 hours improving performance and alertness in the short term. Morever, it is unlikely to keep you awake all night as cocoa powder contains less caffeine compared to coffee. To be noted, avoid those Ovaltine or Milo, just add cocoa powder (Nestle) in your milk to prepare your own home-made hot chocolate.
The good news is that you can add 1-2 squares of dark choc to your diet plan without putting on extra kilos. Dark choc can actually offer a sensation of satiety (fullness), thus lessening your cravings for other sweet, salty and fatty foods.
Chocolate can be a health benefit product to all of us. Several studies are being conducted everyday to prove that chocolate is not an enemy but, if used correctly, can actually be a very good friend. A long-term study in Germany found that a square of dark choc a day lowered blood pressure and reduced the risk of heart attack and stroke by 39%. A more interesting fact comes from Italy. Claudio Ferri, a University Professor, states: “Flavonoids in chocolates increase nitric oxide production and helps control insulin sensitivity.” Dark chocolate: a diabetes foe? Absolutely Not!
Ladies, ladies, ladies…This one may be of great interest to you. You might have noticed something very common among beauty products these past months. Cocoa is being added in most of them. Avon, Yves Rocher, Bourjois are among those who are exploiting the benefits of chocolate (Check out their new collections). Why is that? Well, chocolate flavonoids possess sun-protecting and anti-ageing properties by improving blood flow to the skin, increasing skin density and hydration and finally boosting collagen protection.
I came across a funny article in the magazine Women’s Health which mentioned about babies being born happier and smiled more to women who ate chocolate daily during their pregnancy. Researchers can be very playful sometimes.
Cocoa has a naturally very strong pungent and bitter taste due to the presence of these flavonoids. So when cocoa is processed into your favourite chocolate products, sugar, milk and butter are added to reduce this taste. Sugar, milk and butter are good for your taste buds but not always good for your health. Therefore, before you grab any chocolate product, it is important to make the right choice. The more chocolate is processed, the more flavonoids are lost. Then, the best choices remain the 70% dark choc over milk choc and cocoa powder to prepare your hot chocolate drink. There is unfortunately no established serving size for chocolate but today we do know that you no longer need to feel guilty to enjoy a small piece of dark choc, even when you are dieting.