I just had the most amazing weekend in NYC where I had the luxury of hearing David Wolf speak at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition. For those of you who do not know who David Wolfe is, I suggest you look him up. In short, he is a world renown/celebrity/rockstar in the world of health and nutrition. He is a leading expert on the topic of superfood’s and chocolate and has published several best-selling books including Naked Chocolate and Eating for Beauty. What I learned this weekend was pretty much the exact opposite of what everyone tells you, that is that chocolate is one of the healthiest foods on the face of the earth. Now, let’s get one thing straight here. I am not talking about the chocolate candy you find on a wall mart or gas station shelf. That is what the famous author Mireille Guilano calls “Junk Chocolate” in her #1 National Bestseller, French Women Don’t get Fat. The difference between real chocolate and junk chocolate is what forms the foundation for the so called “French paradox”. French women eat boat loads of high quality, gourmet dark chocolate and yet they never have problems with their weight. Just for the record, they also eat loads of bread, pastries and super rich/calorie dense foods. And yet they are healthier than most women in other countries. On the flip side, 65% or higher of your average American woman are overweight or obese. What’s wrong with this picture?? Back on to the topic of chocolate, it is all in the quality of the product. Whether you eat a snickers bar(Junk Chocolate) or high quality dark chocolate (think Dragoba, Lindt,etc) makes all the difference in the world. Junk Chocolate makes you FAT and has no nutritional quality whatsoever. It is loaded with sugar, extremely calorie dense and super duper oober processed. High quality dark chocolate on the other hand, as David Wolf explained to me in his lecture this weekend in NYC, is a superfood that shouldn’t be taken lightly. Accoding to Wolfe, chocolate has been enjoyed for thousands and thousands of years and is absolutely, 100%, without a doubt one of the healthiest foods on planet earth. What makes dark chocolate so impressive is it’s extremely high antioxidant content. For those of you who need a refresher on what an antioxidant is, just think anti-aging, anti-cancer, anti-stress on your body. Antioxidants are actually the nutritional powerhouses behind colorful vegetables (think carrots, red bell peppers) and berries (strawberries, rasberries, blackberries). The antioxidant content of really high qaulity, raw cacao is 15 times higher than blue berries, 20 times higher than green tea, and 30 times higher than red wine. But the health benefits of quality chocolate (sorry Hershey’s fans, no pun intended) doesn’t stop there. Cocoa butter contains small amounts of plant sterols such as sitoserol and stigmasterol which may help inhibit the absorption of dietary cholesterol. Chocolate also has a significant amount of an amino acid called arginine which can actually cause blood vessels to dilate which ultimately helps regulate blood flow, inflammation and blood pressure. If your not convinced yet on the health benefits of one of America’s favorite indulgence, consider this. Chocolate can help improve your Sex Life!!! Chocolate contains phenylethylamine which is a neurotransmitter released by neurons at moments of emotional euphoria. Yes folks, this does include the art of love making. Chocolate also contains substances similar to THC found in marijuana which explains why people get a sense of high from eating it and often why people eat too much of it. So what are we recommending here? Eat small amounts of chocolate on a daily basis, say 2 quarter sized squares in the evening time. Try to savor the flavor by eating slowly, noticing the hints of acidity, bitterness and creaminess all in the same bite. Remember to pick a high quality semi-sweet chocolate with the highest cacao content that suits your palate. According to a MAy 2010 article published in Men’s Health, you can get the best balance of flavor and flavanols (antioxidants) by eating chocolate that contains around 70 percent cacao. Any lower of a percentage and you are not reaping the health benefits. Any higher percentage and it tastes like your eating straight up bakers chocolate. It’s super bitter and a little bit too strong for the average American palate. So choose wisely my friends. The health you improve may be your own.
Source: The Encyclopedia of Healing Foods by Michael Murray
French Women Don’t Get Fat by Mireille Guilano
Naked Chocolate by David Wolf
Men’s Health Magazine May 2010