Why Should We Care? by Green Diva Meg
These posts explore a myriad of topics relating to green, sustainable and healthy living and offer simple and clear information from the fun and quirky point of view of the Green Divas. Each post provides practical, no nonsense information on What Can We Do to make a difference.
I know there are a lot of stories floating around out there about the health benefits of dark chocolate, but for some reason it really got my attention this year. Perhaps it was GD Lisa’s Take Two (and call her in the morning) report last week, which included some surprising health benefits of chocolate, particularly for the heart. Wow. Really?!? Did Hallmark or the chocolate makers who designed all those heart-shaped boxes filled w/ chocolate goodies know this way back when?
Of course, the truth is that “healthy” chocolate should be dark, low-sugar, probably sans milk (and all the other goodies often found in the middle of those boxed candies) and eaten in moderate amounts.
My husband, who is healthier than almost anyone I know, has a genetic bummer when it comes to cholesterol and we had a very frightening couple of weeks that ended with a triple bypass this past year. So, we’re both paying a lot of attention to anything that is heart-healthy, especially if it is fun and yummy! Ironically (or sadly), he is allergic to chocolate, but I’m not! hee hee hee . . .
I’ll find other ways to adore, love and share my appreciation of my honey on Valentine’s Day, but I’m hoping he’ll indulge me in a little healthy chocolate. I’m going to share the following with him . . .
WHY SHOULD WE CARE (or love it in moderate doses?) . . . ABOUT CHOCOLATE?
- Flavanoids Love Your Heart – According to the Cleveland Clinic, flavanols, the main type of flavonoid found in cocoa and chocolate, have antioxidant qualities. Research shows that flavanols have potential influences on vascular health, such as lowering blood pressure, improving blood flow to the brain and heart, and making blood platelets less sticky and able to clot.
- Lowers Blood Pressure and Increases Insulin Sensitivity - A 2005 study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, found that short-term administration of dark chocolate is followed by a significant increase in insulin sensitivity (which is important against diabetes) and a decrease in blood pressure in healthy persons.
- Better Brain Function – Wow, according to the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), professor of metabolic physiology at Nottingham University, Ian Macdonald, used MRI technology (magnetic resonance imaging) to monitor greater activity in particular areas of the brain in people who had ingested a cocoa drink, rich in flavonols. (need that cocoa drink recipe!)
- Natural Anti-Depressant - One website, Eat This, states that Chocolate contains serotonin, a natural anti-depressant. Chocolate also stimulates endorphin production, which creates feelings of happiness and pleasure. In fact, one study found that melting chocolate in the mouth produced feelings of pleasure for longer than passionate kissing. (Ok. This explains a lot!)
- Prevents Tooth Decay? - Research has found that the theobromine in chocolate prevents tooth decay by eliminating streptococcus mutans, a bacteria found in the oral cavity that contributes to tooth decay. (Have to discuss with my dentist. Could have used more healthy dark chocolate as a kid perhaps).
- Eases PMS Symptoms - Duh. Ask any woman who suffers from PMS. There are lots of conflicting studies, but I speak from experience when I testify here that a small amount of healthy, dark chocolate – even in the form of mole (awesome Mexican sauce made from cocoa) – can be very satisfying to a woman in the depths of PMS mode.
- It’s 1/3rd Good Fat – ok, so again, moderation is key. Here’s the breakdown, each in 1/3rds:
- Oleic Acid is a healthy monounsaturated fat that is also found in olive oil (not too bad)
- Stearic Acid is a saturated fat but one which research is shows has a neutral effect on cholesterol (neutral is good)
- Palmitic Acid is also a saturated fat, one which raises cholesterol and heart disease risk (here’s the not great bit)
WHAT CAN WE DO?
- Please buy Fair Trade Chocolate – Chocolate is one of those commodities that is often produced in developing countries and therefore is subject to potential UN-fair trade practices. What is Fair Trade? Fair Trade is a socially responsible, market-based standard for products made in developing countries, where working conditions and pay may not be regulated and may be considered unfair or unjust to the workers. It creates better trading conditions, whereby socio-economic and environmental sustainability are a priority and the producers derive a more direct and substantial benefit from their work. Listen to our Sleeping Naked is Green segment all about Fair Trade.
- Eat chocolate that contains at least 65% cocoa
- Eat organic chocolate
- Find vegan chocolate
- Moderation - This is not a call to freak out and eat mounds of chocolate every day! Keep it reasonable, get creative and enjoy!
The Green Divas Radio Show, podcasts, audio vignettes and blog posts feature fun and low-stress ways to live a deeper shade of green, while maintaining some comfort and style. Green Diva Meg, co-host Green Diva Lisa and sidekick, Green Dude Scott offer tons of easily accessible information and resources to help make the journey to a more sustainable world easier and a little more fun and entertaining. The radio show broadcasts live every Saturday morning from WMTR 1250 AM in Northern, NJ/NY Metro area, streaming live on WMTRam.com, or catch up on the podcast.