One of the foods I missed the most when I was so restricted was chocolate. It wasn’t even that I ate a lot of it before but, boy, you miss it when it’s gone. I felt I’d lost a real treat.
So you can imagine how delighted I am to have got it back in now. For my recent birthday, I received a ‘chocolate box’ full of really good pure chocolate from various countries. All over 75% pure choc and most with only cocoa butter and cane sugar. Bliss. My current fave is this Marou Vietnamese bar; really silky smooth and the type you have to let melt slowly rather than chomp.
One of the other things I missed was a hot drink. One Winter, I recall being so cold – it’s amazing what the loss of hot drinks does to your temperature. Sure, I could have hot water, but who enjoys that – when you can’t have lemon or anything in it?
I got coffee back in quite early – grinding my own beans of course. Then, a month or two ago, I regained tea – Golden Monkey and Black Rwandan, no less – extremely pure, of course.
This week, though, the holy grail of drinks went back in – hot chocolate! A simple soya milk (made in my soya milk machine) whizzed up with a little Cornish honey and a teaspoon of raw cacao powder was flamin’ bliss.
And It’s Good For You!
Anyway, far from feeling guilty about all this chocolate, I know it is doing me good and I am using proper chocolate as a superfood, if you like.
For example, the hot chocolate is part of my strategy to raise phyto-oestrogen and flavinol levels as I approach the menopause. These things have just got to be done!
And, the few squares most days do two key things: after a meal, pure chocolate, like pure coffee in actual fact, helps stimulate the production of digestive enzymes to help you digest better. I even included this in my Stomach Acid & Enzyme Factsheet here.
Second: pure choc boosts your antioxidant and magnesium levels. In fact, it’s thought by some experts that many people’s cravings for the brown stuff is actually magnesium deficiency. I would not be surprised. 80%+ choc has about 64mg of magnesium per ounce (28g) – that is whopping! See here for more on magnesium-rich foods.
It’s a shame but I suppose I do HAVE to eat some 😉
Anyway, I am feeling even more smug about it today as this message came in to me this morning from our friends at NutriLink (one of my preferred suppliers here). I’m sure they won’t mind me sharing it. Essentially, now chocolate flavinols are shown to help lower blood fats like cholesterol and tryglycerides and also help control blood sugar and insulin. Both really important things for the health state of our nation.
The message: drop the crap chocolate and eat proper flavinol and magnesium-rich pure chocolate. Sure, it’ll taste more bitter for a while because your palate is too used to sugary foods, but you will get used to it quickly and, by its very nature, you can’t eat a lot of it. I’d call that a superfood, wouldn’t you?
Note the other sources of the favinols mentioned include wine and apples. I’ve just got apples back in and a teensy amount of champagne or Cava. I am just SO healthy…
I hope you can enjoy some too x
Cacao – Christmas Guilt Eased
Cocoa Flavanols, some of the active components found in dark chocolate have benefits for human health. To the tantalising delight of chocolate lovers everywhere, a number of recent studies employing various methods have suggested that these flavanols could benefit cardiovascular health. Now a systematic review and meta-analysis of 19 randomised controlled trials (RCTs) of cocoa consumption reveals some further pieces of supporting evidence.
The meta-analysis which is published in the Journal of Nutrition, is an assessment of the combined evidence from all 19 RCTs, focused on whether consumption of flavanol-rich cocoa products was associated with improvements in specific circulating biomarkers of cardiometabolic health as compared to consuming placebos with negligible cocoa flavanol content. In all, 1,139 volunteers were involved in these trials (lucky them!).
In short they found that cocoa flavanol intake may reduce dyslipidemia (elevated triglycerides), insulin resistance and systemic inflammation, which as you know are all major subclinical risk factors for cardiometabolic diseases. Now one must also flag at this stage that there are some limitations to this data, smallish studies, varying flavanol content and varied outcome targets, let alone different eating rates.
But after accounting for these elements, or at least accounting for them as best one can, a target volume of intake was suggested – this is the bit you have been waiting for: – 200 – 600mg of flavanol intake per day is able to improve cholesterol ratios and modify blood glucose and insulin output. There appeared to be no difference in benefit for men or women, and how it was consumed also raised no variances, simply that dark chocolate is the source.
So, for now, why not enjoy moderate portions of chocolate (e.g., 1 ounce/30gms) a few times per week, and don’t forget to eat other flavonoid-rich foods like apples, red wine, tea, onions and cranberries. It may also enhance some cognitive function, as this paper that made its way into the American Journal Of Clinical Nutrition, identified that insulin changes related to flavanols also helped improve cognition. At least you should be able to remember where you hid your special bar of 75% cacao chocolate!
Yours in health
Mike and Antony