Aaaah..Chocolate: it’s healthy too!
What word comes to mind when you hear the word “chocolate.” Ecstasy. Creamy. Sensual. Forbidden. Calories. Healthy.
Wait! Healthy?! Isn’t “healthy chocolate” an oxymoron?
Until recently, I would have agreed that chocolate cannot be healthy. You have read recent reports about the benefits of dark chocolate, and sales are skyrocketing because people really want to believe that their favorite comfort food is good for them. Dark chocolate is a step in the right direction because it contains less sugar and fewer calories. But dark chocolate is still highly processed, and the processing cancels out the nutritional benefits.
Chocolate is processed using one of two methods: dutching and roasting raw cacao beans. Dutching involves boiling the beans to reduce the bitterness. Roasting iswell, roasting at high temperatures. Both methods destroy 100% of the antioxidants and 80% of the bioflavonoids.
That is unfortunate, because cacao beans are the richest source of antioxidants on the planet. Bioflavonoids confer huge health benefits to the body such as reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease, lowering inflammation and pain, reducing the risk of cancer, and slowing the aging process. Cacao is truly an amazing, complex food that everyone should eat frequently. If only we could eat it raw.
Imagine my delight when I found a delicious (emphasize that word, please) chocolate square produced from raw cacao, flavored with the antioxidant-rich acai berry, and blueberries! It contains no wax or fillers so it dissolves slowly on your tongue.
And as it dissolves, antioxidants and flavonoids are coursing through your body to renew health and vitality. Three squares per day (the recommended dose) provide over 10,000 ORAC (a standardized measure of antioxidant activity). A chocolate square that provides 1 billion probiotic organisms was released last week, so not only is it powerfully antioxidant but helps restore normal flora to the GI tract.
We got a little carried away with the chocolate recently. A friend of mine melted it down and gave herself a chocolate facial. She called me laughing, chocolate dripping off her chin.
After washing it off, she reported that her face felt like a baby’s bottom. I see a whole new market here: chocolate skin care. It will make me rich (and beautiful).
Carol Simontacchi is a certified lifestyle educator at the offices of Dr. Alan Gruning in Fort Myers. She owns the Island Nutrition Center on Sanibel. She can be reached at 472-4499.