For those of you reading this who know me personally you know that I’ve just moved both of my daughters into their college and as such am a first time empty nester. Now some parents look upon that with a bit of relief, like “whew I did my job and I’m ready to move on!” That’s not me. I have truly enjoyed every second of my parenting job. Spending time with my daughters is a pleasure and I miss them a lot. The dogs even seem bummed!
Well anyway, I’ve noticed during my adjustment to this new phase of my life that I’ve been craving chocolate more than usual. I’ve mentioned in past blog posts that I love chocolate and that it is a regular part of my healthy way of eating- dark chocolate, that is. But I wanted to write a bit more about chocolate so you’d know how healthy it really is. Let’s call it “My Ode to Chocolate”.
Chocolate, oh chocolate, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways you are healthy and good for me!
1. Chocolate is heart healthy– According to an article in Women’s Health magazine, a study was done in Germany this year and it said that eating a square of dark chocolate a day lowers the risk for a heart attack or stroke by 39 percent and lowers blood pressure too! What a great deal! It’s because of the flavonoids dark chocolate contains, which are antioxidants that make your veins and arteries more flexible. Chocolate contains 5 times the flavonoids of an apple- wow! Now remember it has to be DARK CHOCOLATE NOT MILK CHOCOLATE because milk chocolate contains very little actual chocolate. The experts recommend not eating chocolate that contains any less than 70% cocoa so I eat the darkest chocolate I can because it makes me feel like I’m indulging in a healthy way! Also, chocolate contains sugar, milk, butter, etc so if you eat a lot of it you will gain weight. I eat ONE SQUARE OF DARK CHOCOLATE AND NO MORE!
2. Weight loss– Can you believe that if you eat chocolate you will lose weight? I didn’t believe it but a University of Copenhagen study showed that DARK CHOCOLATE makes you feel more full and satisfied than milk chocolate, and it lessened the craving for salty, fatty and sweet foods. Shut the front door, are you serious?!! That’s awesome! And a study out of Australia showed that people who eat chocolate high in antioxidants reduced the blood pressure raising effects of exercise in people that are overweight. So eat your dark chocolate and exercise safely, my friends!
3. A Stress Reducer– Swiss (of course, Swiss!) scientists found that people who ate an ounce and a half of dark chocolate after an emotional experience (like sending their youngest child off to college!) every day for two weeks, had their stress hormone levels reduced SIGNIFICANTLY, and the metabolic effects of stress on the body were partially reduced too. In addition, stress makes you gain weight because of the increased cortisol levels associated with it, so eating chocolate reduces stress which helps us stay slim and trim. Yay! I am almost required to eat dark chocolate now, right?! 😉
4. Chocolate prevents diabetes– Wait, so eating candy helps to prevent diabetes? Makes no sense, does it? But here’s the thing, in an Italian study people ate a candy bar’s worth of chocolate every day for 15 days and saw their potential for insulin resistance drop by nearly half. How, you ask? Flavonoids increase nitric oxide production which helps control insulin sensitivity. Mom, this one’s for you!
5. Higher intelligence– An Oxford University study of over 2,000 people looked at the long term effects on the brain of chocolate. They studied people over 70 years old and found that people who ate flavonol rich chocolate, wine, or tea scored higher on cognitive test than those who didn’t. I feel a lot smarter now that I eat dark chocolate almost every day!
Dark chocolate can also give you sun protection, cough relief and diarrhea relief as well. It’s truly incredible how something so delicious can be so good for you. Now remember to eat DARK CHOCOLATE with at least 70% cacao for maximum benefits, and don’t eat more than one square per day. Let me know what kind of dark chocolate you like to eat and thanks for reading my blog. It will help you live a life of vitality- like Valerie!