Valentine’s Day is a good reason for chocolate
Chocolate candies left over from the Christmas holidays were stashed with the decorations. I knew that I had at least one half of a bag of bite size chocolate bars put away for a rainy day and I went on the hunt.
When I found them I knew why they were buried beneath the wrapping paper and ribbons. The bitty bars of goodness were just the fuel that I needed to crank out an article on the health benefits of chocolate at Valentine’s Day.
Chocolate is a highly popular food that is often misunderstood. I comprehend chocolate. Each American consumes an average of 11 pounds a year. I eat my share.
Chocolate is part taste and part memory. This divinely delicious sweet is often cheaper than therapy when the world comes crashing down around me. Chocolate is to food what silk and velvet is to clothing. It is a true delicacy with many avid fans, including me.
It seems that chocolate has an unusual capacity to interact with body and brain chemistry. Although there are about 300 chemical compounds associated with the cocoa bean, few have been singled out as having therapeutic effects. Since it is such a unique plant product, its taste and popularity cannot be compared. Chocolate is in a class by itself.
Chocolate has a relatively small amount of caffeine. One ounce has as much as a 6 oz. cup of decaffeinated coffee, 6 mg. It also contains a considerable amount of the chemical compounds, theobromine and phenylethylamine. These substances can enhance the action of hormones and can act as brain stimulants. They are believed to contribute to a temporary sense of well-being and I love it.
Studies have revealed that dark chocolate belongs in a heart healthy diet as an antioxidant agent. According to an Italian study, a small square (20 g) of dark (bittersweet) chocolate every three days is the ideal dose for cardiovascular benefits. Eating more does not provide additional benefits. A 1.4 oz. candy bar of dark chocolate is 228 calories, 25 gm carbohydrates, 2 gm protein and 13 gm fat. One half of that candy bar is 20 grams, a small square.
The antioxidant affect has been documented as the power of polyphenols found in the cocoa bean. They are more complex than those found in any other food and have a more beneficial effect; that is, four times more powerful than green tea. Researchers have concluded that chocolate supports the immune system and cardiovascular health.
Rumor has it that nine out of 10 people like chocolate, the tenth person always lies. I’ll admit that I’ve never met a piece of chocolate that I didn’t like. An addiction is a serious medical condition and a chocolate lover can exhibit an addictive-like behavior; but the desire for chocolate is a strong biological craving, not an addiction.
Go ahead and enjoy this delectable confectionary. Take your time eating your Valentine’s Day chocolates. Treat your taste buds to a flood of more than 500 flavors that cannot be found anywhere else in nature. Bite slowly. Let the chocolate essence cover your teeth and the melted chocolate slowly slide down your throat. Make it last because moderation is the key. Happy Valentine’s Day.
Bobbie Randall is a certified diabetes educator, registered, licensed dietitian. She supervises a diabetes self-management training program at Aultman-Orrville Hospital, Orrville. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or 330–684-4776.