Tuesday, December 24, 2013

The Chocolate Addiction

Luxuriously velvety sweet seduction,
Dark bittersweet sugary reduction,
Oh merciful lord how I crave this intoxicating addiction

Delicious, sinful, mouthwatering & tremendously tempting, these are just some of the million words that spring up when we think of the sweet treasures of our world. In fact, the power that these hold in our lives in so immense, that almost every pleasure of life is defined by them, then be it sweet memories, sweet home, sweet nothings or even sweethearts. Our guilty stomach  rumbles at the mere thought, in spite of numerous reservations, our mind has in mind.
We can consciously increase the value of anything by giving it the adjective sweet. So the sweet friend, who lets you borrow her notes just before the exams, deserves a bar of chocolate.
Out of all the sweets and candies, chocolate takes the cake any day. There are few foods that people feel as passionate about -- a passion that goes beyond a love for the "sweetness" of most candies or desserts: after all, few people crave caramel, whipped cream, or bubble gum. Chocolate is, well, different. For a true chocoholic, just thinking about chocolate can evoke a pleasurable response.

The Understated Facts
Chocolate can be bittersweet, and we don’t mean literally. Although chocolate has many benefits to your health, some facts about how chocolate is made may make you want to munch on a different snack, or at least lower your chocolate intake.

  • Dark chocolate has more cocoa (the beans that chocolate are made from) and less sugar than other chocolates, so it is considered healthier than milk and white chocolate. 
  • Dark chocolate contains lots of antioxidants that help the cardiovascular system by reducing blood pressure. 
  • Eating dark chocolate widens arteries and promotes healthy blood flow that can prevent the buildup of plaque that can block arteries. 
  • Eating dark chocolate every day reduces the risk of heart disease by one third. 
  • Flavonoids found in cocoa products have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-clotting effects that can reduce the risk of diabetes by improving insulin sensitivity. 
  • The smell of chocolate increases theta brain waves, which trigger relaxation. 
  • Chocolate can cause headaches and is not recommended in large doses for people who suffer from migraines or chronic headaches. 
  • Because chocolate contains high doses of caffeine and sugar, chocolate products are largely to blame for ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) in children.

The Healthy Way
The Goodness of Chocolate
Chocolate contains a range of nutrients which include minerals such as potassium, calcium and iron. It also contains the B-vitamin riboflavin. It is true that most of chocolates’ calories do come from fat but the ingredient, known as cocoa butter, is the kind of fat that consists mostly of monounsaturated fatty acid also found in olive oil; the ‘healthy’ fat needed in all diets. Although studies are constantly being done with chocolate (and why not?), studies in the past (e.g. Netherlands, 2006, Harvard, 2003) have shown two significant additional positives. In these test studies, the people who consumed cocoa regularly had a lower blood pressure than those that did not, were less likely to die from cardiovascular disease and had better peripheral blood flow.

Dark Chocolate
Dark chocolate has the potential to have the largest quantity of cocoa solids – at least 70%. This means that 70% of the chocolate is from the cocoa bean and less from added sugars, oils and perhaps other fillers. Thus the antioxidants in the dark chocolate surpasses pecans (14% less) and red wine (25% less).

Chocolate and Nuts
Besides the wonderful benefits from our all natural chocolate, nuts are a great food. In general, nuts are loaded with proteins. Peanuts have the most proteins, followed by almonds, cashews and walnuts. Protein is essential for healthy brain and muscle function, and for vegetarians, are a great substitute for animal protein. Nuts also contain omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants and fiber. Thus with all the added benefits of chocolate, chocolate dipped nuts are a great snack.

Moderation is the Name of the Game
Not only does a chocolate make your taste buds come alive, but it also gives you a ready smile. It is one of the few foods that take care of your happiness and your heart. Eaten in moderation, chocolate has the power to relieve stress and headache coupled with so many other health benefits that are still being researched.
So eat chocolate for healthy life and kiss the guilt goodbye !

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