Choosing the Right Kind of Chocolate is Crucial For Massive
Health Benefits by Michael South
spicy. Spicy enough even to consider adding a healthy dose of chocolate to your life?
Need more reasons? Its natural minerals makes your bones more dense, it prevents
heart disease, its thought to attract abundance, and its full of mood-boosting and
intelligence-boosting neurotransmitter precursors. Healthy, wealthy, wise and happy.
So it is as easy and eating all the Hershey's bars you can get a hold of? Well, not
Raw, unroasted chocolate IS A MUST to really reap the health benefits. Little of this
fact is given weight in the mass-media's portrayal of chocolate's health benefits.
There's a big difference in the chemical composition of un-roasted, naturally-dried
chocolate when compared to 99% of the chocolate products available today. Nearly
every single bar or drink, even at the large-chain heath food markets, is made from
chocolate that's been roasted at high temperatures. 'Organic' does not mean raw;
chocolate powder is not raw unless it says its raw. High-end organic hot cocoa drinks
are still roasted, and likely processed with alkali to make them dissolve more easily.
Why the roasting and processing? Because we've become accustom to chocolate
looking and tasting like it has since our childhoods. Working with raw chocolate
(called Cacao - note this is different than Cocoa!), like so many things that are really
good for you, is best prepared at home using carefully selected ingredients. It's easy
to do, and we'll include some recipes at the end. But first back to the question of why
raw is better.
First the question of Caffeine. Many folks are sensitive to caffeine's effect on their
nervous system. It raises blood pressure, shortens tempers and keeps people
awake. And we all know chocolate has caffeine in it, right? But what form is it in?
Research done by homeopaths indicates a significant difference on the stimulating
effects of chocolate depending on whether it's been heated or not. A drink made with
roasted beans evoked excitement of the nervous system that did not occur with
unroasted chocolate. Alteration of chemical structures through heat is common, and
occurs in the case of chocolate. The roasting process involves heating the beans
between 250 and 350 degrees F for 30 minutes to 2 hours. Anecdotal reports of
individuals moving from coffee or yerba mate as their morning drink to a cup of hot
chocolate report gentle stimulating effects without anxiety, as their other drinks had
produced. Even very sensitive people who do not do well with any form of caffeine
report positive results with raw chocolate; nothing at all like the effects produced by
coffee or caffeinated teas.
Next the question of anti-oxidants. Chocolate has been discovered to have
exceptionally high quantities of important polyphenols. A study published in the
Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry was titled: "Cocoa Has More Phenolic
Phytochemicals and Higher Antioxidant Capacity than Teas and Red Wine." It's hard
to argue with that. Here again the question of raw arises: One report notes that
while roasted chocolate is made up of 5% antioxidants, when raw it contains twice
as much at 10%. Another important note is the addition of milk to make milk
chocolate. Research has shown that the addition of milk actually cancels-out the
positive effects of the natural antioxidants. And milk may be one of the reasons
many people seem to be allergic to chocolate, as lactose intolerance is fairly
common. Another myth is some individuals break out when ingesting high amounts;
reports indicate that raw chocolate does not cause this response, and that it may be
the refined fats and sugars present in most chocolate products producing this effect.
Finally, the question of mood-enhancing neurochemicals and precursors. Chocolate
contains significant quantities of the essential amino acid tryptophan. Tryptophan
intake has recently been collated with neurogenesis, the development of new brain
cells, and both long and short term memory. The presence of tryptophan is critical
for the production of serotonin, a primary neurotransmitter associated with mood
(Prozac works on the principal of enhancing the action of serotonin). Once in the
body tryptophan reacts with vitamins B6 and B3 in the presence of magnesium (all
present in raw chocolate) to produce serotonin. Enhanced serotonin function assists
in diminishing anxiety and stress - ccording to Dr. Gabriel Cousens, serotonin is
literally our "stress-defense shield." Tryptophan is heat sensitive and is often deficient
in many cooked-food diets, even when animal protein intake is high. In addition to
tryptophan (but not heat sensitive) chocolate also contains PEA, the 'love hormone'
and Anandamide the 'bliss chemical'.
Convinced? Ready for a little raw rain-forest power? First its critical to find a good
source; make sure the chocolate you're buying is raw - it's most often labeled as
'Cacao', the name for the raw chocolate beans and the tree on which they grow.
Cacao nibs are small pieces of unprocessed beans that can be eaten straight, or
mixed with other healthy snacks like Gogi berries. But the best-loved raw chocolate
preparation is the original drink of hot chocolate. Now it won't be hot enough for long
enough to convert any chemicals or to cook your preparation, just to make it a
warm comforting drink - and of course, heating the water isn't necessary at all
(though in recipes calling for Coconut oil, it helps to blend the oil into the drink). So to
make a cup, use powdered raw cacao (grinding the nibs or beans in a coffee grinder
can work, though you'll find this challenging as the natural oils in the chocolate will
heat up and liquefy before the grinding is complete, leaving little crunchy bits). Put
one or two tablespoons powdered chocolate, 1 to 2 teaspoons raw dark agave
nectar (a low-glycemic index natural sweetner) and 1 to 2 teaspoons of Coconut oil
in a blender. Add 8 to 12 ounces almost-boiling water and blend for 10 seconds.
That's it! You'll find your personal favorite formula after a few preparations - more or
less chocolate, oil, sweetener or water.
There are many, many recipes available online and in books about raw chocolate.
Some favorite additions to the drink are Maca (Peruvian Ginseng), essential oils like
Vanilla, Peppermint or Orange (just one drop is often enough) or a little powdered
cinnamon. Your own raw bars are very easy to make, really just by omitting the
water and adjusting the oil and sweetener ratios to make a thick chocolate paste.
Add some chopped nuts if you like, press into a casserole dish and put it in the
refrigerator long enough to make it firm. Experiment; it's chocolate! You're supposed
to have fun. And with raw chocolate, it might be the most fun you can have eating
while positively benefiting your health.
About The Author
Michael is a raw chocolate lover, and contributor to The , an
online resource for essential oils, flower essences and aromatherapy information.
Chocolate is the new 'Black': Its
making waves in all the health circles,
as its health benefits appeal to
medical and health practitioners with
diverse educations and specialties.
Laboratory studies reveal its potent
anti-oxidant actions, and 'chocolate
parties' reveal a great many other
positive effects. We've all seen the
surveys where many women would
prefer chocolate over sex (this does
not seem to be the case in European
countries, however); add to this the
results of an Italian study mentioning
that women who eat chocolate have
more sex, and the subject gets a little
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remedies and before making any drastic changes to your diet or exercise program.
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