19 June 2009

A Bar-One a Day...

Recent evidence suggests that chocolate in moderation may be beneficial for ones health.

Recent evidence suggests that chocolate in moderation may be beneficial for ones health. Whatever the case, chocolate is no longer the outcast that it once was in dietician circles.

Listen to your body”, say the fitness sages. I suspect the problem is that your body, like mine, likes watching television. My body, I guess, likes eating too…preferably chocolate.

When I do a lot of exercise and I listen to my body, it tells me to eat enough to replace the energy I expend on all that activity. In addition, it seems to be pretty fussy: It likes food that tastes good. None of this unprocessed chunky stuff that tastes like recycled paper.

But I am listening to my body. Following my instincts. Being a natural man. So I let the chocolate slowly melt in my mouth as I went in search of confirmation of my body’s gut feel. Mmmmmmmmmmmmnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnn……………………….

Good News

Here’s the first bit of good news: Some chocolate a day might keep the doctor away. A new study suggests that a daily dose of chocolate – especially dark chocolate – may be good for you. Chocolate contains high levels of catechins, the same type of antioxidant found in black tea.

Previous studies have suggested that frequent tea drinkers have a lower risk of cardiovascular disease and cancer, benefits that may stem from the same catechins found in chocolate. Researchers at the National Institute of Public Health and Environment in the Netherlands found that dark chocolate contained the highest amount of catechins at 53.5mg per 100g, while milk chocolate contained only 15.9mg per 100g.

Nutritionists have long vilified chocolate because of its saturated fat (not to mention sugar and overall kilojoules). The thing is, the type of saturated fat found in chocolate isn't the same type of artery-clogging saturated fat found in butter and bacon. Chocolate's fat – stearic acid – doesn't goo up arteries the way other saturated fats do.

Even better, new evidence suggests that chocolate may prevent other foods from clogging up your blood vessels. That's because chocolate contains the same nutrients that have made red wine famous as a heart-disease fighter.

Cocoa powder, dark chocolate and milk chocolate all contain respectable amounts of phenols, chemicals that protect LDL cholesterol from oxidising and damaging your arteries. In fact, a bite-size chunk (and don’t open too wide) of dark chocolate contains the same amount of phenols as a glass of red wine. And, according to research, a cup of hot chocolate made with cocoa powder has about 75 percent of the phenols of a glass of red wine.

This is almost as good as hearing that beer is good for you!

Where to from here?

So. How do we deal with this wonderful news. Certainly not by eating as much chocolate as possible.

Although chocolate is definitely not as bad for you as was once thought, this treat still packs in the kilojoules. To avoid weight gain, keep serving sizes small and reach for types of chocolate that have the most heart-healthy benefits. Hold yourself to no more than two squares of chocolate a day and make it dark, since dark chocolate has more phenols than milk chocolate.

If chocolate calls your name a bit too often, try regularly indulging in a small amount about 15 minutes after dinner. A recent study published in the journal Appetite found that chocoholics who ate chocolate on a full stomach decreased their desire. But those who indulged on an empty stomach just wanted more and more chocolate. Researchers suspect that using chocolate to satisfy your hunger (rather than your sweet tooth) teaches you to crave it on a regular basis.

Low-Fat Recipe

And here’s a little recipe for a great low-fat chocolate boost: Blend a tablespoon of cocoa powder with two tablespoons of hot water, then add a cup of low-fat hot milk and a squeeze of honey for sweetness.



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