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Chocolate as Medicine

Chocolate as Medicine

To paraphrase Kramer talking to George on Seinfeld, “Oh you may stray, but you’ll always return to your dark master, the cocoa bean…and only the purest can satisfy you.” Amen to that! The cocoa bean, that is. I always welcome the chance to talk about chocolate–both its pleasurable and healing aspects. As a matter of fact my hubby is fond of saying that if he could come up with some combo-lombo sort of chocolate-cheese foodstuff recipe, he would do quite well with this in Holland (and with me!). You see, I’m 100 percent Dutch, and what is Holland known for? Why, cheese and chocolate of course. But, I digress.

Now most of us can relate to “the dark master’s” pleasure quotient, so let’s look at the healing part here–chocolate as medicine that is! From enhancing one’s mood to protecting the heart to getting an ample amount of antioxidants to neutralize free-radical damage to improving glucose metabolism (diabetic control), and so much more–a daily bit of high quality raw or dark chocolate has now been proven to have tremendous health benefits. The cocoa bean is well known for its high level of antioxidants, specifically resveratrol (part of the family called polyphenols). Resveratrol can cross the blood-brain barrier to help protect your brain and nervous system and has been found to protect cells from free-radical damage, keep your heart healthy, lower blood pressure, inhibit the spread of cancer (especially prostrate cancer) and normalize our body’s anti-inflammatory response. There’s also evidence that resveratrol can slow down the signs of aging and help prevent Alzheimer’s disease.

The cocoa bean also contains up to 2.2 percent phenylethylamine, the “love drug,” and is one reason chocolate is thought to be an aphrodisiac. It’s believed to work by making the brain release b-endorphins, an opioid peptide which is the driving force behind chocolate’s pleasurable effect. Or the pain-relieving, mood-enhancing, joy-inducing, effects, if you will! There area also a number of neurotransmitters and other compounds–like theobromine, tryptophan, and anandamide that enhance one’s mood, as well as calm us down and boost creativity. Then there’s the high level of potassium and magnesium, a natural muscle relaxant, as well the “good” fats that can enhance brain function, help prevent cardiovascular disease, suppres appetite, stimulate metabolism, and boost immunity. All combined, thee ingredients are what create the well-known chocolate effect.

Now mind you, we’re not speaking of the typical commercial candy bar here–highly processed with heat as well as large amounts od refined sugar, processed dairy, chemicals, waxes, an such. We’re speaking of raw, organic, unprocessed chocolate (and sustainable, please!) made from the cocoa bean. The closer the chocolate is to its original state, the better it is for you. With the news of dark chocolate’s health benefits, 70 percent or higher cocoa bars have swept the marketplace, be aware that many of these are still heavily processed–and with this lose a large amount of their beneficial constituents. Some are better than others. Become a discerning label reader.

So how much chocolate should we eat for its healthful benefits? Here’s a perfect example of “less is more.” Researchers recommend eating a precise amount of chocolate –6.7 grams a day–for the best health benefits, especially its protective effect against inflammation and cardiovascular disease. This amounts to a small square of chocolate per day. I don’t know about you, my friends, but I may need to spring for extra square every now and then. But of course, this is an excellent lesson in “all things in moderation,” especially when it’s the most delicious, nutritious, organic raw chocolate possible. And you can involve all the senses for the incredible pleasure! Smell the chocolate’s aroma before putting in your mouth, then let it slowly melt in your mouth, chewing as needed, tasting the exquisite flavor across the broad expanse of your tongue and its 10,000 taste buds before letting it float down your throat into your tummy where your GI system will send the beneficial parts of the chocolate to your mind-body physiology. Chocolate love at it’s best!

Organic Spa Magazine is a national consumer lifestyle magazine about bringing spa wisdom into the modern green lifestyle. For a free digital subscription, click here.

Read more: Diet & Nutrition, Eating for Health, Food, General Health, Health

By Mary Beth Janssen, Organic Spa Magazine

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27 comments

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2:28AM PST on Jan 18, 2014

Noted

1:42PM PST on Jan 4, 2014

favorite big brand: Green&Black, mid-size: Moonstruck, smaller: Madagascar; easy to find Endangered Species

8:33PM PST on Dec 26, 2013

yea baby ..... I been sayin' this for years. :0)

11:20AM PST on Dec 24, 2013

Such a pity I never learned to love chocolate .

11:05AM PDT on Sep 18, 2012

:-)

8:58AM PST on Feb 12, 2010

I have always known chocolate was good for us :-)

10:36AM PDT on Aug 26, 2009

Hi everyone. For anyone readers visiting who don't really know, raw cacao is simply chocolate in its original state; uncooked, untampered with and naturally packed with 367% more antioxidants than the currently celebrated and 2nd highest antioxidant food, the Açai berry! Problem is, it is far too bitter to consume as it is. What would happen if the two collided? You would get the world's most healthy dark chocolate, sweetented with one of the healthiest fruits and resulting in a chocolate that tastes fantastic, not bitter. What used to be considered candy, not healthy and to be consumed in seriously small quantities can now be touted as a health food with some of the most amazing natural health benefits on the planet! Visit http://www.theworldsgreatestchocolate.com for more information or to order some chocolate to try for yourself. Email chocolate@theworldsgreatestchocolate.com.

9:09AM PDT on Aug 19, 2009

FYI Heini's Cheese Chalet, Millersberg, OH in the heart of Amish country http://www.heinis.com/. Makes a chocolate fudge cheese. Enjoy!
~;^}>

8:19AM PDT on Aug 13, 2009

I am a writer myself and have written many articles about the benefits of chocolate and cacao. On and BTW Sharon I checked out this video you mentioned and thanks for pointing it out, I am going to do more research for my next article on baldness

8:53AM PDT on Aug 11, 2009

Resveratrol seems to be one potent dude. Thank you for the insight.

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
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