Food for Thought: The better side of chocolate
I don't suggest that this means you can go out and gorge yourself with Oh Henrys and Mr Bigs, but if you do fancy a bit of cocoa once in a while, you can do so knowing there are positive aspects of chocolate that can aid your body.
First of all, the chocolate I am talking about is of the darker variety. Standard milk chocolate bars don't tend to have the same qualities that dark chocolate has that makes it “healthy.” This is because dark chocolate contains more cocoa than milk chocolate and cocoa is the source of many wonderful things called flavonoids.
Flavonoids are a type of antioxidant; immune boosters which help to attack and destroy the harmful free radicals in our bodies that can cause ailments including the all-too-common heart disease. These antioxidants are most present in chocolates that have a cocoa value of 65 per cent or more. There has also been studies that show a significant decrease in absorption of these antioxidants when consumed with milk; so don't go chugging any milk with your dark chocolate or the healthy attributes will be no good.
Chocolate also helps to increase the production of endorphins in your body. Endorphins are chemicals that your body naturally makes to act as pain relievers and create a pleasurable feeling. To increase the “good feeling” in your body even more, chocolate also contains serotonin which elevates mood, and caffeine which stimulates energy.
You must be mindful of the quantity of chocolate you are eating, however, as the higher the percentage of cocoa; the higher the fat quantity. The fats are primarily “good fats” in chocolate but can contain some cholesterol as well. Fortunately, dark chocolate is extremely rich in flavour and a small morsel can be quite satisfying.
Darker chocolate can get quite bitter as the cocoa mass increases, and not many people I know besides my boyfriend's father can handle anything over 85 per cent. I suggest you stick to a 70 to 75 per cent chocolate bar to start, and work your way up from there.
So, when the chocolates go on sale on Februrary 15 and you wonder if you should buy one, go ahead and treat yourself to some dark chocolate! You'll be doing your body and your mood some good.