by Daniel Javit, MD
Disciplined eating habits have always come easy to me except for chocolate; chocolate is my arch-enemy, my kryptonite, my Achilles’ heel. I deal with this in one of two ways: I either allow myself small daily aliquots of chocolate or eIse I restrict my intake for weeks and then “go cuckoo for cocoa“ on a weekend splurge. (I’ve been advised never to divulge how much chocolate and sugar is consumed during these binges).
“It’s OK”, I reassure myself as a health coach and physician, “I’m just cameling up on my flavonoids to increase my longevity”.
We’ve heard nothing but promising studies about the health benefits of chocolate, the darker the better. But are they true….and what’s beneath the hype?
Experience Life magazine reviewed the research and found a disturbing trend: the vast majority of studies touting the health benefits of chocolate were sponsored by the chocolate companies themselves. Anyone see a problem here?
But all hope is not lost as cacao does contain vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, flavanols (a type of flavonoid), and polyphenols. Not to mention the boost in happiness that accompanies surging serotonin levels.
So what’s the bottom line?
The consensus is that unprocessed cacao does have significant health benefits. (There is a God!) We need to be cognizant, however, about avoiding the highly processed chocolate products which are prevalent on the shelves today. (See guidelines below.) So as long as we stick with chocolate that is unprocessed and has a high percentage of cacao, we can have our cake and eat it too; enjoying both the health benefits of chocolate as well as its deliciousness.
Did you actually think I wouldn’t find the chocolate lining with regard to this health topic?(!)
1- Avoid highly processed chocolate such as fermented, alkalinized, Dutch-processed, sugar infused, or milk chocolate. Choose organic products to avoid commonly sprayed pesticides and herbicides.
2- As the percentage of cacao increases, the amount of added sugar decreases. So when you need a chocolate fix, seek out at least 85% cacao to keep the sugar content down. Even though you might initially find dark chocolate to be bitter, you can easily adapt by slowly working yourself up the cacao ladder. Start at 70% and incrementally work your way up to 95% if you dare. And if you’re crazy like me, go for 100% unsweetened chocolate and convince yourself that you love it. Like bringing your report card home from school: 85% is a good solid B but, if you’re health nut like me, you might want to shoot for the perfect A+.
Savor and bon appétit!
(4 Sessions) Tuesdays, November 13 – December 11, 2018, 6:00 – 7:30 pm
Stress Free: 1,2,3
Daniel Javit, MD, a physician for over 30 years and now a certified health and wellness coach, leads workshops in a wide variety of venues. He graduated cum laude from Amherst College and Cornell Medical School. He has been practicing yoga and meditation for 35+ years.