The Taste Of The Mediterranean

Creating a life that is positively good for you...

STEP 9

A SECRET CHAPTER FOR CHOCOLATE LOVERS
Ssshhhhhhh! it’s positively good for you

Chocolate Bars

During the 1990s there was an important scientific breakthrough demonstrating the health benefits of wine.

After years of negative messages in relation to the potential harm of foods, this was a breath of fresh air. We could indulge a little, enjoy, and be fitter and feel better. The joy of a positive dietary experience that allowed us to experience pleasure in the knowledge that we were gaining health benefits! And from wine! That “which cheers the sad, revives the old, inspires the young, makes weariness forget his toil, and fear her danger; opens a new world when this, the present, palls.”

The news gets better still with the fantastic taste of colourful fresh fruits, vegetables and salads covered in olive oil significantly reducing risk of heart disease and cancers.

And now we are discovering that chocolate is actually good for you! (as part, of course, of a balanced calorie stable diet).

There is increasing evidence that the cocoa bean, and chocolate made from it, contains a number of bioactive substances similar to those in tea that have potential health benefits to prevent illness including cancers and heart disease. There is also some research to suggest that chocolate has a mood lifting effect.

There are specific bioactive substances such as phenols, polyphenols and other antioxidants present in chocolate that may have anticancer properties and also act to prevent clot formation and to relax blood vessels. Dark / plain chocolate packs more of these powerful antioxidants in a bar, though people often express a taste preference for “milk” chocolate as it tends to be less bitter.

“BUT SURELY CHOCOLATE IS FATTENING?!”

Sure, chocolate is energy dense. As we will explore in chapter 10, it is important that a stable weight within recommended limits is maintained, but this is best achieved through regular exercise, portion control, and commitment to a balanced healthy Mediterranean style diet.

So a little packet of antioxidant rich chocolate to relax those blood vessels and mop up some of those cancer risking “ free radicals” is a great idea.

“BUT CHOCOLATE CONTAINS SATURATED FATS WHICH ARE BAD FOR YOU?!”

Sure, there are fats in chocolate. Whilst most saturated fats (including palmate in chocolate) raise cholesterol levels, chocolate also contains one of the least harmful combinations of saturated fats since stearate actually has no effect on cholesterol, and the presence of oleic acid (a GOOD monounsaturated fat) probably reverses any negative effects of the saturates. It has been shown scientifically that the main ingredient of chocolate ie cocoa does NOT raise cholesterol levels due to its balance of saturated and monounsaturated fats!

However, this is an argument for the superiority of dark/plain chocolate over the more “processed” milk chocolates, which not only contain less cocoa (as little as 20 % compared with the more usual 70% in good quality dark chocolates) but also bulks out with ingredients such as vegetable fat or butterfat which add calories and unhealthy fats.

STEP 9; The Bottom Line - Add a little Dark chocolate to end your Evening Meal