The Bearer of Good News: Chocolate is Good For You!
The Bearer of Good News is a series by Will Clower, PhD, Founder and CEO of Mediterranean Wellness, written exclusively for SpaFinder® Wellness
The whole process of dieting is awful. Delicious foods must be left at the brownie buffet bar, and you have to suffer through high-fiber, cardboard flavored “grossness” as a penance for all your past dietary sins and wickedness. But there’s actually good news for dieting. Being thin and healthy doesn’t mean you have to eat nastiness or forgo flavor. As a matter of fact, the enjoyment of food is actually a solution to the colossal calamity of our weight and health issues, not the cause of it.
The point of this blog is to be the bearer of good news, and show how good food is not automatically bad for you. As a matter of fact, people who live in healthy cultures eat the most delicious, wonderful, make-you-moan-out-loud, foods on the planet!
In France, for example, they eat creams, cheeses, butters, breads, wines, and chocolates – every day. These are not people who deprive themselves of anything, and yet the percent of their population that is obese is roughly three times less than ours (~13% for them, about ~34% for the US). If they can do it, so can we! There’s some great news, right off the bat. Well, it’s a teaser of great news anyway. You have to start somewhere.
Case in point? Chocolate. Within this column, I will be chronicling the amazing health benefits of chocolate, which I’m learning about as I complete my new book entitled, Eat Chocolate, Lose Weight. Actually that’s two bits of good news, wrapped up into one same yummy title. The idea that you can do both of these things – eat chocolate AND lose weight – is a happy, happy notion!
The way to make this miracle happen is to start by realizing that chocolate is a righteous health food. It is an antibiotic, an anti-platelet, it raises good cholesterol, lowers bad cholesterol, prevents the DNA damage that can lead to tumors and, if you have a tumor in vitro, it can prevent that proliferation!
The caveat is, however, that you must choose the right chocolate. How many products have the word chocolate or cocoa somewhere in extra large type? There are crispies, puffs, syrups, milk, gummy worms, M’s, kisses, nougat, and on and on. But none of these cheap-o chocolates have anything in them that produce any significant health benefit. That’s because almost all the health benefits come from high levels of cocoa, all of which has been exorcised from the aforementioned confectionery weirdness. So choose the lusciously delicious higher quality chocolates and you will get the health benefits as well. Bonus!
Yet another benefit of high quality chocolate consumption is that the quantity your body asks for decreases. Conversely, lower quality cheap-o chocolate has the sugars and fillers that create cravings so that you are hungrier for more. And when you score those brilliant, higher quality chocolates, what you notice is that they tend to have an amazing mouth feel. What does “mouth feel” even mean? It’s the silky, melts in your mouth, makes you moan out loud thing that chocolate does to you. The reasons your eyes go all half-closed after that “mouth feel” gets rolling is a result of the cocoa butter that comes, prepackaged in the cocoa bean itself. When you eat cheap-o chocolates, there is a sealing-waxy mouth feel that makes you feel like, “Oh, great, I’m eating chocolate plastic, or plastic chocolate. Either way, eww.”
Here’s the good news that I bear. The chocolate that tastes better is also better for your heart. The cocoa butter’s nutritional theory-offending saturated fats turn out to be heart healthy after all. One third of them are healthy monounsaturated fats that we’re supposed to eat. Another third consist of steric acid, which your liver converts to oleic acid (another heart-healthy monounsaturated fat). Those fats may be one reason why chocolate’s polyphenols raise your good cholesterol (HDL) and lower your bad cholesterol (LDL).
So do your heart a favor, eat luscious high cocoa chocolate. If you eat it in control, it can even contribute to weight loss. Now that’s some real good news.
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