COMMENTARY: The Natural Way, Yes Virginia: Chocolate is good

Thursday, May 16, 2013

With Mother's Day and Easter behind us I think it is important to remind everyone that chocolate is a health food. Of course this is to assuage any guilt for eating to much of this alltime delectable. Worldwide chocolate is a favorite delight with roots reaching deep into time. Recently, modern science has been uncovering some of the benefits beyond the making amends by a spouse in the doghouse.

Chocolate has many compounds/chemicals that make it the "God Food" the ancient Greeks named it. The darker the chocolate the more theobromine you taste. This gives chocolate the distinctive taste. Theobromine is a Greek derived word made up of theos meaning God plus broma meaning Food, literally, God Food. Medical science knows this is useful for dilating blood vessels (lowers blood pressure), improves blood flow to the extremities, is a mild stimulant and is a diuretic causing you to get rid of excess water. Without using too much imagination, it is easy to see why chocolate is a romantic lover's food. Additionally, the muscles around the main tubes of the lungs relax with theobromine often relieving hacking coughs.

Can you get enough theobromine from chocolate? That depends upon the quality and darkness of the chocolate (70% or higher) as well as how much you eat along with how your own body reacts. The fun thing is experimenting with how much you need! What is known for sure is the amount you eat stays in your system between six to ten hours before it decreases by half. This is called biologic half-life. A little bit can go a long way.

It is a stimulant but much more mild than caffeine. A little extra boost of energy happens with dark chocolate but watch out for the sugar content. Usually, the darker the more bitter but the better for you. Some have noticed chocolate lifts them from a blue mood and science does know it can raise serotonin levels reducing depression.

One warning and that is to keep chocolate away from household pets and horses. Small amounts can be toxic, as they cannot digest it like we can... more for us! Wow, what a world we live in! A couple of squares of deep, dark, rich chocolate along with a glass of deep, dark, red wine and you've got a health food!

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