Friday, December 11, 2009

Chocolate is Gooooood...Yes, It Is

To brighten our Friday, here's a report based on the latest research on chocolate from the RealAge/YOU Docs (Drs. Oz and Rozen of Oprah fame). In case anyone was in doubt, dark chocolate is good for you. LOL! Good thing, 'cause I'm eating it regardless (along with its less healthy cousins: milk and white). However, it's heartening to know these findings:

Chocolate has all but been elevated to superfood status. And the good news keeps rolling in. So here are three more reasons why you may not want to be too quick to break that chocolate habit. (As long as you're hitting the dark stuff.)

Chocolate makes you smarter. Ample research suggests that the flavonols in dark chocolate increase cerebral blood flow, which in turn may trigger the creation of new blood vessels and brain cells. And a new study showed that older adults performed better on cognitive tests after eating small portions of the sweet stuff.

Chocolate weakens heart attacks. Although more research is needed to confirm this one, a new study showed that regular chocolate eaters who had heart disease were less likely to die following a heart attack compared with the people who didn't treat themselves to the dark and dreamy stuff.

Chocolate has a cavity-fighting compound. Okay, so you don't necessarily want to trade in your toothbrush for a chocolate bar. But some interesting new research shows a compound in chocolate -- theobromine -- may be just as good as fluoride at hardening tooth enamel. So the compound could find its way into toothpastes and mouthwashes one day. Until then, keep in mind that most commercially prepared chocolate has lots of sugar in it.

In light of this happy research, I'm adding in one dark chocolate candy bar to the December prize package (which includes the DVD of "The Jane Austen Book Club"--see previous post for details) and, also, because getting enough sleep is at least as good for us as eating chocolate, I've got a really cool fabric sleep mask, made by lovely author friend Nancy J. Parra, that the winner will get as well. Her upcoming romantic suspense novel Dream Man is awesome! And she'll be a guest on Brant Flakes next month, too. :)

So, for those fellow chocolate lovers out there, what's your favorite kind? Milk vs. dark vs. white? Cadbury vs. Hershey vs. Dove vs. Ghiradelli?? Do you like it creamy smooth? With fillings like caramel or raspberry? With crunchy almonds or hazelnuts? If by chance you like to wear your chocolate...I just came across this link to make "Hershey Kiss Holiday Lights Necklaces." My kind of art project!


Margay Leah Justice said...

I like chocolate any way I can get it! Milk, dark, white, Hersheys, Dove, whatever. I just love chocolate.

Judy Croome | @judy_croome said...

I always knew there was a reason why I *love* chocolate!! :) I also read somewhere (too long ago to remember) that chocolate has a similar ingredient to dagga (marijuana)which is why it has such a feel good effect! I like milk and white, but won't touch dark chocolate. My husband eats 85% dark and more. Sometimes I think he may as well just chew on the cocoa beans! :)

Looking forward to the interview with author Nancy J Parra.

(Five unique prizes from South Africa up for grabs in my blog's Christmas Contest) (but no chocolate I'm afraid)

Lisa Cohen said...

Dark chocolate. Heavenly.


Baking cookies today--good to know that it's for medicinal value only. ROFL.

Amethyst Willow said...

All kinds! But especially Lindt, the bars, as they're creamy like galaxy (dove?) but less sticky - oh so yummy! Plus they make some of the dreamiest truffles!

I'm so lucky I have none in the house or they'd be all gone just moments after reading this hehehe.

Marilyn Brant said...

Margay~You and me both!! I'll take it in whatever form it lands on my plate :).

Ann~I have no doubt that chocolate is a drug... And I know what you mean about those 85% dark chocolate bars tasting like cocoa beans! I like dark chocolate, but 70% is my upper limit or it's too strong for me. Took a quick peek at your contest--how wonderful! I'll definitely enter it and, also, announce it here on my next post ;).

Lisa~I see "very good health" in your near future! Bake LOTS of those cookies...

Amethyst~Oooh, Lindt is great! And you're right, sooo creamy... Plus, lucky girl, you're in England and have those awesome Cadburys right there. (The chocolate used in the British Cadbury bars is just better than the American version--there's a very distinct taste difference--but you've got the good kind by you! :)

Unknown said...

Love dark chocolate. The darker the better.

Virginia C said...

If you want pure instant chocolate satisfaction, nothing beats a plain Hershey Milk Chocolate Bar! I love chocolate and cocoa in just about any form. Milk, dark, white, combo, with or without nuts or fruit. Brach's chocolate stars! The Whitman's Sampler! Russell Stover Home Fashioned Favorites! See's Candies! Homemade fudge! Oreos, M&M's and Junior Mints! For emergencies, always keep a bag of semisweet chocolate chips on hand for a "chocolate hit" : )

gcwhiskas at aol dot com

L.A. Mitchell said...

My favorites are Ghiradelli's--the dark filled with raspberry or caramel. YUM. Your December basket sounds like so much fun :)

Robin said...

Ah, so much chocolate, so little time. Do you think I could live on chocolate alone? My favorite is white. But I also love milk or dark chocolate filled with caramel. Or plain. Or crunchy. Or smooth. Love putting it in the freezer and eating it cold!

Anonymous said...

Dark. The darker the better :)

Maria Geraci said...

I like my chocolate almost any way. But when the chips are down, nothing brings me up faster than a plain ol' Snickers bar!

Pamala Knight said...

Mmmmmm.....chocolate! Now there's PROOF that we should consume as much as we can. Thank you Marilyn!

Marilyn Brant said...

Tiffany~Yay! Another dark chocolate fan!!

Virginia~Your comment had my mouth watering and my mind ping-ponging from one fabulous treat to another! And, ohhh, I love semisweet chocolate chips, especially frozen...

L.A.~I could live on those Ghiradelli chocolate squares (esp. the caramel-filled ones). When the RWA conference was in San Francisco, my only non-conference trek was to Ghiradelli Square ;).

Robin~Love white chocolate on pretzels! And there's a sweets shop near here that coats their popcorn in white chocolate--you'd probably really enjoy that!!

Tina~Score one more for dark chocolate! Healthy girl!!

Maria~Aren't Snickers bars amazing?! It's almost a health food, really, with those peanuts in there, too ;).

Pamala~LOL! I'm all about the science. Actually, there's some online article floating around about how chocolate also improves people's sex lives... Looking forward to hunting down the data on that, too!!

Anonymous said...

Any chocolate is a good chocolate, but I started eating dark chocolate because of its healthy properties, and now I've gotten used to it. Love Ghiradelli chocolate, but Dove is so creamy. Too creamy. I eat too much and that's not healthy.

Anonymous said...

Just wanted to say that was me signing as Anonymous. Blogger doesn't like me anymore.

Edie Ramer

Silvia said...

Hi, my name is Silvia and being a chocoholic I might. I think of the brown and I long for the white.

I don’t have one particular kind of chocolate that I crave. I love them all the whole group is my fav.

Dark, mysterious and dreamy. Or milk, smooth and oh so creamy.

White with crispiness is for today the best. But let’s not forget about the rest.

That I stashed away in my cupboard called cubbie. Deeply hidden for my lovable hubbie.

For he believes he comes number one. And so he does when chocolate is gone.

Dean said...

Most of us are eating it because we enjoy it, but there are a few ways to maximize the health benefits of dark chocolate.

The Darker the Chocolate, the Better. Dark chocolate has a higher percentage of cocoa solids, containing the health benefits, than milk or white chocolate. Most dark chocolate products have the cocoa percentage labeled. The higher the cocoa percentage, the better.

Eat Moderate Portions. Chocolate is a high-calorie food. Over indulge, and the health benefits of dark chocolate can be quickly outweighed by the health problems of weight gain. With small portions, you can still enjoy the health benefits of dark chocolate daily.

Avoid the High Calorie Extras. The health benefits of dark chocolate come from the antioxidants in the cocoa solids. All of the other ingredients, like sugar, and any extras, like nougat, caramel, marshmallow, etc., just add calories.

Do Not Consume With Milk. For some reason, not yet scientifically understood, the health benefits of dark chocolate are basically negated if the dark chocolate is consumed with milk. Avoid drinking milk with your moderate daily portion of dark chocolate.

Marilyn Brant said...

Edie~Well, I adore you, even if Blogger is being difficult! And you're right about the creaminess of Dove...sigh. I eat too much of all of the brands.

Silvia~WOW!!! What a fantabulous ode to chocolate love! I'm so impressed. Thanks for sharing your terrific poem ;).

Dean~Thanks for the added info (and I checked out your great website, too). The one detail I didn't know was the thing about not eating dark chocolate with milk... Very, very interesting and helpful to keep in mind.

Brett said...

I love all kinds of chocolate in all different forms, especially if it's somehow involved with ice cream!! :)

I have a great recipe for truffle brownies...it's dangerous having them around the house, because I can't stop eating them!

I love the poem that Silvia posted -- that was great!!

Marilyn Brant said...

Truffle brownies??!! OMG, Brett. You're a man of hidden talents ;). Those may even rival See's Chocolate!

Rain Maiden said...

It's Hershey for me...I must have it about a week before Mother Nature hits.

Marilyn Brant said...

Rain~I just had a mini-Hershey bar today... My son needs to learn not to tempt me by leaving his chocolate lying around in plain sight! ;)

erika said...

I like milk and white chocolate. Dark chocolate is not sweet enought fo me. German chocolate is wonderful

Marilyn Brant said...

Erika~Oooh, yeah. German chocolate *is* wonderful. I always loved those square "Manner" bars... I like marzipan, too, and they have a chocolate-covered marzipan bar that's just incredible. YUM!!

Laura Hartness said...

Thank you for justifying our addiction! For me, the favorite is dark chocolate, preferably the 60% kind. Anything higher than that is too bitter for me, but my husband loves the super-dark stuff!

Laura Hartness
The Calico Critic

Marilyn Brant said...

Laura, I'm with you on the dark chocolate. My upper limit is probably 70%, but I like 60% even more...and, also, with caramel ;).