As a terribly unoriginal member of the female species, I have a small obsession with chocolate.
However, I am also a chocolate snob, favouring only good quality (organic, fair trade, simple ingredients) dark (over 70%) chocolate. As it turns out, my palate has inuitively steered me in the right direction, because dark chocolate, in reasonable doses, is actually a health food. Although I have plenty of experience with unreasonable doses, I usually try to stick to one to two squares a day. And some days I don’t have it at all. Usually because I have forgotten to replenish my stock. And those are usually sad days.
According to researchers, 6.7 grams of dark chocolate per day, about the amount found in one to two squares, represents the ideal amount for a protective effect against inflammation and cardiovascular disease. Eat more or less than this amount and benefits begin to diminish.
For the remainder of this article, please know that when I refer to “chocolate” I am excluding all types of white chocolate, milk chocolate, and the chocolate candy bars strategically placed for impulse buying while in line at the grocery store/drug store/corner store/gas station. These chocolate imposters contain little to no chocolate, lots of sugar, and often weird ingredients to colour, flavour, and preserve themselves. Please leave them on the shelves where they will remain in pristine condition for years and years (not a good thing!).
Researchers have been disproportionately eager and prolific at providing support for the notion that chocolate is actually good for you. Try finding a similar volume of research proving that fish eyeballs are good for you. You won’t find it.
Chocolate is high in a range of superstar nutrients and associated health benefits. Check it:
-Magnesium: A mineral involved in hundreds of metabolic reactions in the body, including muscle relaxation, blood sugar regulation, and hormone balance.
-Catechins & Epicatechins: Antixidants found also in red wine and tea, have been shown to delay some forms of aging, and reduce risk of stroke and cardiovascular disease. [Source]
-Procyanidins: Antioxidants found also in dark pigmented berries which have been linked to lower rates of heart disease and overall mortality, and are important in the maintenance of youthful skin and good circulation. [Source]
-Phenylethylamine: A compound that improves mood and motivation. Abnormally low amounts have been found in those with ADHD. [Source]
-Theobromine: A bitter alkaloid also found in black and green tea that promotes circulation through vasodilation. That means lowered blood pressure, and possibly less need for Viagra. [Source]
-Pyrroloquinoline quinone (PQQ): An essential nutrient found to protect memory and cognition in aging populations, reverse cognitive impairment caused by free radical damage, and stimulate the production and release of nerve growth factor, which is critical for the survival and maintenance of nerve cells..[Source]
With benefits ranging from mood support, to better aging, to heart health, you can feel good about a daily, small chocolate treat. Good quality, low sugar, high cocoa content bars that I like include: Green and Black’s Dark 85%, Endangered Species Natural dark 88%, Chocosol Darkness and Hemp Gold, Giddy Yoyo Xtra Dark, Spirulina, and Chaga. They can all be found pretty widely in health food stores around Toronto.
And, if you’re keen and like to DIY, I encourage you to make your own chocolate creations! Here are some delightful chocolate recipes to get you started:
Please enjoy responsibly!