Here we go – it’s Taste It Or Waste It time again – and this time around we’re talking CHOCOLATE, that irresistible, melt in your mouth, sugary taste of pleasure that is a universal gift for virtually any holiday.
Nothing says “love” like chocolate, and it shows: we consume over 20 Billion pounds per year! My uncle worked for Nestle when I was a kid and I still remember getting all those free “Crunch Bars” on holidays and for my birthday. So what exactly is Chocolate and can it actually be healthy to eat?
Chocolate as we know it, is made from the seeds of the Cacao tree. Nowadays we roast the beans, separate the shell from the inside (the rib) and grind them down to produce a bitter pure cocoa product. It’s then liquefied and depending on what variety is being made (sweet, bakers, milk, white) additional fat, cream, sugar, cocoa butter and condensed milk are added. I’ve heard many women say chocolate is better then sex but I tend to think those women just need new partners!
But is it GOOD for you?
First and foremost chocolate tastes great! Chocolate, or more specifically the cacao seeds its made from, contain flavonoids which are antioxidants that are thought to boost the body’s protection against toxins, cell damage, and also provide some heart health benefits. Chocolate has also been touted as a cancer fighter, aphrodisiac, blood pressure and bad cholesterol reducer, mood enhancer and even an anti- depressant. It’s easily found, super cheap, and can be used in virtually any recipe. Everything tastes great with chocolate in it!
Allegedly, the more processed the chocolate, the less flavonoids it contains, so your best bet for health benefits is the dark, unsweetened, bitter chocolate (you know the yucky stuff!) Milk chocolate, Sweet Chocolate and White chocolate are all loaded with fat, sugar and high in calories. Chocolate’s high acidity content can also cause indigestion, and apparently some research suggests it’s addictive, can cause violent episodes and actually be toxic to the human body, citing that no animal would eat it in its raw form unless tricked with sugar and other processing methods.
My issue is simple: while Cacao’s flavonoids may have some potential health benefits, most of the chocolate you eat is the highly processed, sugar and fat laden variety. Seriously, if only that heart shaped box or chocolate bunny were good for you! I don’t put much weight in some of the reported negative side effects, as I’ve never heard of someone in a ‘chocolate rage’ – although I suppose it could explain some experiences I’ve had with past girlfriends!
Personally, I think the chocolate industry misleads people into thinking all chocolate is created equally – and is health promoting, which we know it’s not. Don’t kid yourself into thinking you’re eating it for the health benefits, come on, you know you’re not! Plus the suggested daily amount for health is just an ounce or two – who eats that?
So while pure cacao may offer some real health benefits, we ruin it by how we manufacture and process it into the candy we see on our shelves today.
TASTE IT OR WASTE IT:
I say… Waste It! Unless it’s a holiday, then you have to eat a little!