Chocolat, Mi Amour

By Copper Williams

What our love for chocolate can do for our health

Ah, love. It’s practically synonymous with February, where Valentine’s Day reigns supreme. And what pairs better with such a romantic time of year, than chocolate? Whether it’s served from a heart-shaped box under the pale moon’s glow, or being binge-eaten on the couch whilst others romp in their romantic trysts, we will always treasure the pleasure of that first, heady bite. But, my darling, were you aware? That your trusty chocolate muse might just love you back?

That’s right! Chocolate, in its purest form, is filled to the brim with wondrous benefits! Dark chocolate, to be exact. Bars that contain 70-85 percent cacao enhance mental and emotional health by boosting blood circulation to our brains. Andrea Chapin, RD, CNSC, FAND, Clinical Dietitian for Lodi Heath writes that, “The notable health benefits of dark chocolate are thanks to antioxidant compounds called polyphenols. Research suggests these flavanols can reduce risk factors for heart disease by reducing high blood pressure and improving vascular function.”

But a fair reminder! Not all chocolates are created equal. “As with all energy dense foods, remember to enjoy chocolate in moderation.” Andrea reminds us. “Desserts are eaten for flavor, not for nourishment or to fill us up. A sweet tooth can usually be satisfied with a few bites (1 oz. piece of dark chocolate!).” Your grocery store favorites? Garbage! No amount of Kit-Kats, Snickers, or Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups will give you the love that only cacao-infused bars can. If you’re on the lookout for the real deal, visit specialty shops like Say It With A Box in Stockton or Sheri’s Sonshine Nutrition in Lodi. So bid that fake chocolate adieu, mon chérie, and delight in the darkest chocolate your taste buds can endure.

Not Your Average Cup Of Joe:

Trying to kick that coffee habit, but crave the lovely pick-me-up that comes with every blissful sip? Pour yourself a cup of cacao! No, that’s not a typo. Cacao is the natural bean that all chocolate stems from. Unlike coffee, a cacao bean based grind doesn’t have much caffeine, but plenty of theobromine! It lifts your mood and doesn’t come with all those nasty coffee-based side effects. Drink up!