Top 5 Chocolate Myths

In the five years since I’ve launched Exotic Chocolate Tasting, there is always a conversation that begins  “I have to watch my weight”, “‘I’m a diabetic”, “I can’t have chocolate because of the caffeine” “I have gluten issues,” and “I’m a Vegan,” etc. These are old myths that have not left the mainstream information pool. Recent science and health experts have dismissed all and here are the top five:

Fine chocolate comes in many colors

Many different types of fine chocolate

1. Calories don’t add up 
 Olive oil, olives, avocados, nuts and seeds, and dark chocolate; the most beloved MUFA’s (Monounsaturated fatty acids are a healthy type of fat that are plant-based) in the good fat family. Eating these rich MUFA’s at and in between meals is the key to reducing your appetite. However, it’s not a license to consume an entire chocolate bar, a little goes a long way, mindfully savor 2-3 squares a day.  Cortisol, the underling enemy that causes stress eating, simulates the appetite but specifically induces cravings for sugar and fat, MUFA’s help reduce those cravings.

2. Good news for Diabetics 
Quality dark chocolate bars also helps control insulin levels and relax blood vessels, lowering blood pressure, and provides important minerals including magnesium, copper, potassium, calcium, and iron lacking in the American diet. The more chocolate is processed, the more flavonoids are lost. Most commercial chocolates fit this category.

3. Allergies
 Real chocolate has no gluten, dairy, GMO”s and is vegan. There is only two ingredients in the chocolates that I endorse and use at my events – organic chocolate and sugar, the best chocolates are made this way.  Many people that have had reactions such as headaches, are most likely from the chemical additives in commercial brands. Today, children suffer from peanut allergies and cannot enjoy chocolate like their friends. The unfortunate reality is most chocolate is processed in equipment shared with peanuts, by law that must be disclosed even on single-batch chocolate makers. However, Grenada Chocolate Co, Ritual Handcrafted and Dandilion Chocolate are chocolate makers that do not have nuts where they process their chocolate.

4. No Caffeine, but a mood lifter 
There is a persistent urban legend that Chocolate contains caffeine. The alkaloid Theobromine is the active ingredient in chocolate. The two stimulants are related and have similar structures, but are have different effects. The chocolate amphetamine is a mood enhancer better known as the love chemical. The brain release endorphins–the same feel-good chemicals you have when you exercise or feel extremely happy. This will help decrease anxiety and depression, and will make you feel more relaxed. However, some commercial chocolate companies add trace amounts of caffeine, an addictive component. In general, eating one quality dark chocolate bar at once equals the stimulating effects of one cup of coffee. To add to the confusion, the sugar content may also have the same stimulating effect. The higher cacao content, the less sugar is in the bar. Example: A bar of 70% cacao will have about 30% sugar.

5. Not all fats are bad fats
 Considered a “Super-Food,” chocolates heath benefits are still being discovered. Chocolate is made from a plant, which means it contains many of the health benefits of dark vegetables. The cocoa butter that is extracted from the cacao bean and added back to create chocolate bars is a heart healthy Mono Unsaturated Fatty Acid “MUFA” just like olive oil. MUFA’s are unsaturated fats that are flexible, easily glide through the bloodstream to help unclog and protect arteries from building up. Only quality dark chocolate with cacao content of 70% or greater, not mass-produced chocolate with additives or milk. Dark chocolate is rich in antioxidants called flavanols that boost good HDL cholesterol, and reduces the harmful effects of LDL (bad cholesterol) levels. Flavonoids are plant pigments found in dark green vegetables, berries, green tea, chocolate, nuts, many spices, and red wine. Antioxidants help the body’s cells resist damage caused by free radicals. An anti-inflammatory, that offers powerful protection against cancer, heart disease, type 2 diabetes and other diseases.

Uncorking Red Wine’s Secret Ingredient: From Resveratrol to Wonder Drugs?

Scientists at Harvard Medical School have found out how resveratrol — a chemical in red wine and chocolate — works to keep cells healthy, which is a big step toward developing effective drugs to treat conditions like diabetes and cancer.

Chocolate and Wine Pairing

Chocolate & Wine Pairing

Red Wine Health Benefits – By Brett Spiegel, Everyday Health Staff Writer
MONDAY, March 11, 2013 — Scientists have homed in on how resveratrol — a chemical commonly found in red wine and chocolate — works to prevent cell aging, which could eventually lead to the development of synthetic drug treatments for obesity, diabetes, cancer, and other conditions, according to new research published in Science.
Though researchers have been looking at resveratrol for years, this new research, from Harvard Medical School, is considered a breakthrough in understanding the chemical’s potential to increase the activity of a protein called SIRT1, which helps fuel the power-producing parts of cells and in turn may fight age-related illnesses like cardiovascular disease or type 2 diabetes.
“This was the killer experiment,” said David Sinclair, PhD, senior study author and genetics professor at Harvard Medical School, in a press release. “There is no rational alternative explanation other than resveratrol directly activates SIRT1 in cells. Now that we know the exact location on SIRT1 where and how resveratrol works, we can engineer even better molecules that more precisely and effectively trigger the effects of resveratrol.”
Much previous research on resveratrol’s potential was too lab-specific, scientists say, and not applicable to human health. This new finding solidifies resveratrol’s potential for cell rejuvenation, and gives researchers a way to figure out which genes and amino acids will allow resveratrol to promote production of SIRT1.
“SIRT1 is like a Pac-Man that removes these proteins and tells other proteins to go out and repair the cell,” explained Dr. Sinclair, in the LA Times.
“We discovered a signature for activation that is in-fact found in the cell and doesn’t require these other synthetic groups,” said study author Basil Hubbard, PhD, in the press release. “This was a critical result, which allowed us to bridge the gap between our biochemical and physiological findings.
Enzymes like SIRT1 are naturally triggered by diet and exercise, but activators like resveratrol — developed into drugs — could further strengthen their chemical activity and disease-combating capability. “Ultimately, these drugs would treat one disease, but unlike drugs of today, they would prevent 20 others,” Sinclair told the UK’s Daily Mail. “In effect, they would slow aging.”
“In the history of pharmaceuticals, there has never been a drug that binds to a protein to make it run faster in the way that resveratrol activates SIRT1,” Sinclair asserts in the release. “Almost all drugs either slow or block them.”
In the long term, researchers believe synthetic variants of resveratrol, oral or topical, will be part of treatments for disorders ranging from heart and liver disease to Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s to muscle, bone, and skin inflammation. “Things there are also looking promising. We’re finding that aging isn’t the irreversible affliction that we thought it was,” Sinclair told CBS News. “Some of us could live to 150, but we won’t get there without more research.”

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