EWWK: Chocolate Lovers Rejoice!

By: Kim Beavers
By: Kim Beavers

"Forget love ... I'd rather fall in chocolate."

"Chocolate is cheaper than therapy, and you don't need an appointment."

"Stress wouldn't be so hard to take if it were chocolate covered."

Romance and chocolate have been paired for centuries. The taste is something that is craved and often used to cure a broken heart!

On the practical side, it's the compounds in cacao called flavanols that help activate enzymes that release nitric oxide, a substance that helps widen and relax blood vessels. This allows blood to flow through the vessels more freely, reducing blood pressure. Cocoa flavanols also have anti-inflammatory properties that could protect the heart and arteries.

Isn't it wonderful that research can sometimes make millions of people rejoice?

DEFINITION AND HISTORY

Cacao: The dried partly fermented fatty seeds of a South American evergreen tree that are used in making cocoa, chocolate and cocoa butter.

Chocolate began in the hot, equatorial South and Central America and Amazon regions.

It was considered a Devine gift, a source of power, a form of currency and a health food by the people of Ancient Mesoamerica. The Aztecs considered chocolate the ultimate gift from the gods and thought it gave their warriors strength. Early doctors prescribed it to cure ailments. Throughout history, chocolate has been revered for its medicinal qualities as well as its delicious (addictive) taste!

DIFFERENT TYPES OF CHOCOLATE

Dark Chocolate: GO FOR THIS! Dark chocolate has far more antioxidants than milk or white chocolate. It has 65 percent or higher cacao solids. It can be either sweet, semi-sweet, bittersweet or unsweetened. Semi-sweet (35 to 45 percent cocao solids) and bittersweet (60 to 85 percent cocao solids) chocolate are frequently used for baking cakes, cookies, etc. Munch on 3.5oz to receive benefits! One ounce = approximately 127 calories and 7.5g fat.

Milk Chocolate: A sweet chocolate that normally contains 10 to 20 percent cocao solids (which includes cocoa and cocoa butter) and more than 12 percent milk solids. Milk chocolate is used in many types of candy but is seldom used for baking except for cookies. One ounce = approximately 132 calories and 7.5g fat.

White Chocolate: Made with cocoa butter, sugar, milk, emulsifier, vanilla and other flavorings. It does not contain any non-fat ingredients from the cacao bean and therefore has an off-white color. It has a mild sweet flavor and is perfect for baking. One ounce = approximately 140 calories and 8.5g fat.

THE BOTTOM LINE
As delicious as all types of chocolate are, stick to dark chocolate for health benefits. And of course, portion control is ALWAYS important. An ounce of dark chocolate two to three times a week is all that is recommended!

“Strength is the capacity to break a chocolate bar into four pieces with your bare hands and then eat just one of the pieces.” -- Judith Virost


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