Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Dark Chocolate: No, really, its okay… go ahead!

I used to engage in occasional experimentations, back in the day, some of which might be considered compromising by some.  But as my body was a tad more youthful, I could withstand occasional molecular imbalances for the sake of hopeful progress into dimensions unknown. Though many a stone was not left unturned, what remains is the only addiction I’ve ever known…one that turns out to be something that I can not only live with quite well, but one that is preferable to all others…and that is dark…oh so deliriously dark chocolate. And with the least sugar content the better, my personal choice is unprocessed died-in-the-wool pure organic chocolate nibs, as touted by one of my heroes, David Wolff.

Chocolate in its purest form contains a superlatively high amount of flavenoids: members of the antioxidant family known as polyphenols. Polyphenols perform the heroic task of helping our bodies fight against free radicals that show up in environmental toxins such as chemicals, pollution, radiation, automotive exhaust, and cigarette smoke. Free radicals are purported to cause premature aging as well as many degenerative diseases because as they float around looking for a match for their unpaired electrons they will almost always attach themselves to the bad guy (does this sound familiar?), causing damage to the life-giving properties within our cells.

Besides fighting free radicals, flavenoids also diminish the stickiness that can show up in blood platelets, which helps to lower high blood pressure, meaning that they can also reduce the possibility of myocardial infarction and stroke. Flavenoids also help prevent oxidation in the cells resulting from the effects of bad cholesterol, or LDL, while also increasing levels of good cholesterol, or HDL.

The essence of chocolate, the cocoa bean, contains over 400 chemicals, including the essential amino acids tryptophan, phenylalanine, and tyrosine. These amino acids assist the body in building protein as well as operating as neurotransmitters sending messages to and fro nerve cells in the brain. One of these messages, as we chocolate lovers have long noticed, is that of pleasure caused by that exquisite endorphin rush after biting into a succulent handful of chocolate nibs or a seductive bar of organic dark chocolate. 

Dark chocolate requires less processing than its frivolous cousins, milk and white chocolate. This means that the inherent flavenoid content is more or less intact, depending on the method of production. The higher the cocoa content in the chocolate, the more potent the healthful elements.  So my friends, go ahead… march right down to your local chocolate supplier and get your deserved measure of bliss.  Enjoy and be healthy.

Please note that as with everything in life, moderation is key…

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