Need I say anything else?
By Sarah Ann Landau
Here’s a holiday treat for you- and I’d venture to say that it will make you feel a little better about mowing down on all that candy you’ve been gambling for these past eight nights, or that Santa left in your stocking. But I’m not here to hold your hand as you slip dreamily into diabetic shock. Chocolate, or cacao, is way more powerful than you may have imagined and it should be regarded as such. There are many medicinal properties that can be attributed to this luscious delight. In the words of Hippocrates, “let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food”. Am I right?
Recently there has been a good deal of research into the memory-enhancing and antioxidant potential of this Aztec (believed to be a gift from the God of Wisdom) wonder food. A study from Columbia University found that a group of older folks dealing with degenerative memory issues benefited greatly from the consumption of cacao as well as other plants that are high in flavanols, or flavanoids. A flavanoid is a type of antioxidant that has the power not only to protect cells against free radical damage, but protect blood vessels, prevent inflammation, and help our bodies to utilise vitamin C as well.
Another study, published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, found that eating dark (over 60%, I would imagine) chocolate can actually help to decrease blood pressure AND make the insulin that our bodies produce more effective. This means that we don’t need as much insulin to regulate carbohydrate and fat metabolism. This also means that chocolate could reduce the risk of diabetes in what one may call a “healthy person”. That’s pretty awesome.
Cocoa happens to rank number 8 on the ORAC (Oxygen Reactive Antioxidant Capacity) Value chart and baking chocolate comes in at number 12. Basically, this means that it blows almost every other food out of the water in terms of antioxidant capacity. HOWEVER, antioxidants are sensitive to temperature and processing, so you can only imagine the punch that raw chocolate packs!
Dark chocolate is also an excellent source of both phosphorous and magnesium. One of phosphorous’ claims to fame is being the main component of our cell membranes in the form of phospholipids. Magnesium is responsible for building bones, circulating blood, and relaxing our nerves and muscles. That makes me want to go eat some right now!
So you’ve heard what I have to say about chocolate. It sounds pretty stellar, I will admit, but remember that this is a treat… A very special and healing treat. It was used in ceremony by the MesoAmericans. Perhaps we could bring some of that reverence into our relationships with this powerful food. How about this; every time you eat a piece of chocolate, you have to go outside in your underwear and dance around your house three times while singing “Chocolate City”. But seriously, respect the medicine and it will respect you! More importantly, enjoy it!
Happy New Year, friends. I hope that 2014 has brought a wealth of experience, lessons learned, and goals achieved. It is now time to embrace the possibilities that this new year brings and allow all that does not serve to drift away. Aho!
Mateljan, George. The World’s Healthiest Foods. Seattle Washington, 2007. Print.
“Candies, chocolate, dark, 70-85% cacao solids”. Nutritiondata.self. Web.
“Cocoa Flavanols Can Reverse Memory Loss in Older Adults”. Sci-news.com, Oct. 27, 2013. Web.
Davide Grassi, Cristina Lippi, Stefano Necozione, Giovambattista Desideri, and Claudio Ferri. “Short-term administration of dark chocolate is followed by a significant increase in insulin sensitivity and a decrease in blood pressure in healthy persons1,2,3”. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 2005. Web.
“History of Chocolate”. Wikipedia.com. Web.
“Phosphorous”. Wikipedia.com. Web.