Bit about Chocolate for 2012…..and 2013 too!
With New Year’s Eve parties right around the corner, you might be wondering what treats to bring to the last party of 2012. You might want to choose something that symbolizes health and wealth for the coming year.
Well, I might suggest something created from the cocoa tree with origins dating back 4,000 years in the Amazon. If you guessed chocolate you are correct! Aztecs believed that wisdom and power came from eating the fruit of the cocoa tree and that it had nourishing, fortifying and even aphrodisiac qualities. Therefore, back in 300 AD, cocoa pods were symbolic of life and fertility, two of the most important things!DYK The Aztecs believed eating fruit of the cocoa tree had nourishing, fortifying and aphrodisiac qualities? Click To Tweet
Today, chocolate still plays a central role in festive celebrations and is associated with religious holidays. We may actually be hard pressed to go through the holiday season without eating chocolate! Nevertheless, from a nutrition perspective, chocolate has gotten some serious media attention over the past year for its associated health benefits. Let’s indulge ourselves in a little more of this information before treating ourselves this holiday season.
Health Benefits of Chocolate!
This is such a delicious topic I have to say….here we go!
• Chocolate is a type of phytochemical called ‘flavanols’ which are present in plants to improve health**
• Flavanols act as antioxidants which help ward off cancer and other diseases such as cardiovascular disease
• Flavanols increase your HDL or ‘healthy cholesterol’ and decrease your LDL or ‘lousy cholesterol’
• The darker the chocolate the more flavanols!!
• Flavanols moderate blood pressure which contribute to heart and arterial health
Before you indulge…
Remember that moderation is still important! Chocolate is high in saturated fat (increases your ‘lousy cholesterol’) and is not heart healthy if consumed in large amounts.
• Consume in small, bite or ‘toonie size’ amounts a couple times a week
• There are still calories in chocolate and too much = weight gain
• Alkalized cocoa powder (in most hot chocolates) is lower in flavanols
Choose dark chocolate a few times per week as a good way to increase flavanol (and therefore antioxidant) levels in the body. It is also a great way to treat yourself without indulging in something completely unhealthy!