The cocoa plant, chocked full of dark, rich history, is responsible for the world famous drink “hot chocolate” that is sipped with delight all over the world. The cocoa bean, that was cultivated in Central and South America, was first brewed into a magical ceremonial drink, by the ancient Toltecs, Mayas, and Aztecs. It seems that the Aztecs were the most serious of all the chocoholics – their famed leader, Montezuma II used it as currency and threw back several gallons of his spiced version each week.
So what’s all the current health buzz about cocoa I keep hearing on the news? Reports says that it does have many healthful qualities, including antioxidants called flavenoids that protect against cell damage and polyphenols that are proven to prevent cardiovascular disease, and the ability to relax and improve blood vessel functions, lowering high blood pressure.
But which chocolate are they taking about when the researches publish these finding? Dark is really the only way to go, meaning your chocolate choice should be dark because it contains at least 60 percent cocoa solids and good news – some brands of dark chocolate contain as much as 75 percent! Make sure you read the package to find out how much real cocoa your treat contains. Milk chocolate has fewer flavonoids than dark, and white chocolate has almost none because it doesn’t contain real cocoa!
So you’re thinking ‘great news’, finally something that’s indulgent is finally good for you! Not so fast my friends. While munching on a square of dark chocolate can make you feel like a king or queen, remember to keep the portion small since it does still contain a lot of fat and calories, 150 calories per ounce and can have as much as 12 grams of fat! Sorry to burst your bubble. However dark chocolate contains less sugar, which is always a benefit for those who don’t want to completely give up their daily small dose of chocolate.
While studies prove that chocolate is high in many antioxidants that can help you from aging quickly, you still want to make sure that you’re getting antioxidants from better sources of foods that are low in fat and calories. Eat lots veggies including spinach, broccoli, and carrots and add antioxidant fruits to your diet especially berries, citrus, cherries, and pomegranate. So I’m sorry to report that chocolate is not the cure that choco-holics were hoping for! But go ahead and enjoy! Remember the secret to having chocolate as part of a healthy diet is to enjoy it in moderation.
Jen’s Picks for Chocolate Indulgence
- If you love the tang of ginger, this dark chocolate bar from Green and Black’s will tickle your tastebuds and cool the chocolate craving.
- Best hot chocolate in the world: Zafra Kitchen, Hoboken/NJ
- Tempting books about chocolate: