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Wednesday, February 16, 2011
I thought that since it is the month of chocolate’s most popular holiday, Valentine’s Day, it would be fitting to give you all some comfort and encouragement about just how delectible, rich, and even healthy the candy can be! So before you’re kicking yourself over indulging in the luscious treat, relax, and pop another chocolate into your mouth or even use it to cook a delicious meal for you and a loved one!
I came across the article, Go Cocoa Loco, in the most recent issue of Women’s Health Magazine, where I read that chocolate can actually be good for you! Scientists have found that the cocoa bean, which is actually a fruit, has been found to have a variety of benefits. As some of you may or may not know, chocolate is one of the most antioxidant-rich foods on the planet and has more flavonols than berries and tea. Antioxidants and flavonols are important to your health because they rid the body of excess free radicals which have been linked to cancer, aging, and a number of other diseases. Along with diminishing radical levels, the article indicates that “studies have connected cocoa to lower blood pressure and decreased risk of heart attack and stroke” due to its ability to increase blood flow. The article also reports that the increased blood flow to your brain helps with memory and learning. The antioxidants in cocoa benefit your immune system and aid in the muscle recovery after a tough workout. Ever been seriously craving a chocolate fix after a tough day at work or before a stressful test? Grab a piece because studies have also shown that cocoa can improve your mood due to the serotonin raising stimulants theobromine, and phenylthyamine.
As long as you are eating chocolate with at least 50 percent cocoa you will have access to the bountiful benefits. The higher the cocoa percentage that chocolate has the more antioxidants it has. But, the bitterness of higher cocoa chocolates may not be for everyone. Experiment with pairing chocolate with a variety of foods ranging from fruit to cakes to chicken! Check out a few of the recipes included in the article, including chocolate fruit bark and poached chicken with chocolate mole! Ask for chocolate for Valentine’s Day and enjoy every last bite of it!
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