How to invest in your health: Invest in dark chocolate!

Ingy Deif, Monday 15 Apr 2013

The love of chocolate: something that unites humans. Ahram Online talks to experts to unravel the benefits and dangers of chocolate, as well as how switch your indulgence to the dark side!

photo: Reuters

It was labelled by our ancestors as the "food of the gods," and in other places quite the opposite: "the food the devil." Well, in all its forms, chocolate is an indulgence few of us can resist.

In fact, many feel a guilt associated to devouring a whole chocolate bar. Have you?

Don’t - provided that you learn how to switch your indulgence to dark chocolate!

"One of the marvels of nature," says Dr Fawzi El Shobaky, professor of nutrition at National Research Institute, while stressing that consuming dark chocolates moderately boosts the mood and helps regulate blood circulation and is actually good for the heart. It provides the body with energy without raising the insulin level significantly.

On the other hand, one should be aware of excessive added sugar in chocolate and that a whole bar contains almost one third of the allowed recommended quantity of caffeine for an average person.

He adds that recent studies confirmed, also that women who eat chocolate on regular basis have a healthier love and emotional life than those who don’t crave them or simply don’t indulge in them due to diet restrictions.

Dr Abd El Hadi Mesbah, professor of immunity and fellow of the American Academy for Immunity says that over 300 natural stimulating compounds are present in the creamy brown substance, which are responsible for improving the mood and neural transmissions.

He adds that dark, rather than milky or white chocolate, are packed with flavonoids, which are a kind of very potent antioxidants. These fight free radicals in the body, thus it protects against a host of diseases: heart diseases, clots, strokes, brain damage and high blood pressure. Also it stimulates the formation of endorphins in the brain, acting as a pain reliever and antidepressant.

Too sour to devour?

Dr Iman Shaarwy, nutrition consultant, says that many of her clients found the idea of eating dark chocolate a bit disturbing and not tempting. That was until they followed a few tricks to acquire a taste and learn to savour the wonders of dark chocolate:

•             When eating dark chocolate, sit alone; avoid noise and any disturbances. Start gradually by choosing a semi-dark chocolate before opting for darker ones.

•             Meditate on the fact that this stuff is actually full of health rejuvenation for your body.

•             Some find dark chocolate tastier if they eat it after a piece of bread or apple.

•             Hold the dark chocolate bar and use all your senses: take a look at it and marvel at the deep and even brown colour, touch it all around, break it to detect the faint sound then smell it deeply before putting it in your mouth.

•             Do not chew; let it melt on your tongue very slowly. The slow melting process will counter the bitterness a bit.

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