Dark Chocolate Love

By | November 18, 2013

Dark chocolate is made from cocoa which long, long ago was once called cacao, pronounced [kuh-kah-oh] or in Grace Phonetics {khu cow}, and means The Food of the Gods.  Cacao was highly valued by The Mayans & The Aztecs who used these luscious beans as currency and to pay taxes.  These traditional cultures also used cacao beans to make a miraculously refreshing beverage for sustenance.  Cacao beans were fermented, roasted and then ground into a paste to which water, corn, chili peppers and other spices were added.  The commoners of these societies occasionally had access to this beverage while the privileged consumed it frequently.  After cacao beans made their way to Europe, the Spanish changed the game by making their cacao beverage with hot water instead of cold and used spices such as ginger, cinnamon, pepper and nutmeg…and then they added sugar.  Eventually the English took the cacao beverage making process one step further and turned cacao beans into what we now refer to as chocolate.  And along the way the word cacao turned into the word cocoa.

Cocoa is packed with antioxidants called polyphenols and does the body good by:

  • Protecting against cardiovascular disease and cancer
  • Decreasing inflammation (especially with inflammatory bowel disease)
  • Decreasing blood platelet adhesions & the risk of blood clots
  • Increasing blood flow in the arteries and heart
  • Decreasing LDL cholesterol and increasing HDL cholesterol
  • Helping to lower high blood pressure
  • Improving cognitive performance and improving mood and pleasure by increasing serotonin and endorphins in the brain
  • Providing important minerals such as calcium, magnesium and potassium
  • Keeping you satiated and your cells properly metabolizing for good weight maintenance

So how can you get more cocoa in your diet?

Eat dark chocolate but always read the list of ingredients.  Cocoa or cocoa beans should always be the first ingredient.  The healthiest dark chocolate will contain very few ingredients (like 5 or so).  I prefer dark chocolate that contains 70% cocoa, but if you are new to indulging in dark chocolate you might want to start with  45-55% cocoa and work your way up.  The ingredients in my current favorite chocolate bar are:  cocoa beans, sugar, toasted coconut, cocoa butter, ground vanilla bean.

I typically pay about $4 per bar for organic, fair trade dark chocolate.  What? you say.  Well my chocolate bar provides me with 5 snack servings so the cost is just $.80 per snack.  How much did you just spend in the vending machine?

Bake with 100% cocoa baking chocolate and ditch the liquid-like choco bake that is squeezed out of a plastic sleeve.

Enjoy dark chocolate drinks.  Again, read the list of ingredients to ensure that cocoa or cocoa beans are the first on the list and that the product contains only a few ingredients.  Here is the list of ingredients from a popular “hot chocolate drink,” it’s like a Where’s Waldo game trying to find cocoa on this list:  SUGAR, CORN SYRUP SOLIDS, VEGETABLE OIL (PARTIALLY HYDROGENATED COCONUT OR PALM KERNEL AND HYDROGENATED SOYBEAN), DAIRY PRODUCT SOLIDS, COCOA PROCESSED WITH ALKALI, AND LESS THAN 2% OF CELLULOSE GUM, NONFAT MILK, SALT, SODIUM CASEINATE, SODIUM CITRATE, DIPOTASSIUM PHOSPHATE, SODIUM ALUMINOSILICATE, MONO- AND DIGLYCERIDES, GUAR GUM, ARTIFICIAL FLAVORS.