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Sunday, July 10, 2016

I Never Met a Chocolate I Didn't Like

original post: http://karenjcarlisle.com/2016/07/10/i-never-met-a-chocolate-i-didnt-like/

July 7th was International Chocolate Day. Now that's a holiday I can relate to. In honour of the day, this week's post is about chocolate.
Whenever someone says chocolate, a voice inside me says:
"I never met a chocolate I didn't like.".

Though I admit I draw the line at chocolate hot cross buns and croissants.
Some of you will recognise the quote by Deanna Troi of Star Trek: The Next Generation. In the same episode, The Game (1991), she said "Chocolate is a serious thing."  Deanna  knew the score.
Chocoalte cake is a favourite of Police Surgeon and detectiving cohort , Henry Collins, from my series The Adventures of Viola Stewart. I prefer dark chocolate (preferably at least 85% and Fair Trade).
And perhaps this isn't such a bad thing. And to prove it, here's some sciencey stuff.

The Science of Chocolate

Even science admits chocolate has health benefits. Though you need to consume dark chocolate with a high cocoa content. It's the cocoa that's good for you, not the sugar. Cocoa has been linked to:
  • improved mood (causes release of serotonin and endorphins - the feelgood hormones),
  • boosts cognitive performance (so do red wine and tea)
  • lowering blood pressure (due to flavanols),
  • preventing liver disease (due to improved blood flow),
  • boosting good cholesterol (due to polyphenols found in dark chocolate),
  • maintaining healthy vascular tone (lowering BP, opening vessels and antioxidants that reduce inflammation)
  • even improves the skin!
Bitter is better - containing more of the beneficial chemicals and less sugar (which is not beneficial).
I'm still searching for a Ktarian chocolate puff, Deanna's favourite:
"I don't know exactly what's inside, but I think it's made with seventeen varieties of chocolate."
-  Deanna Troi., Star Trek: The Next Generation: Liaisons (1993)

Bibliography - The Researchy Stuff:

  1. 10 reasons why chocolate is good for you
  2. Acute dark chocolate and cocoa ingestion and endothelial function: a randomized controlled crossover trial http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/88/1/58.abstract
  3. Chocolate Consumption, Cognitive Function, and Nobel Laureates http://www.biostat.jhsph.edu/courses/bio621/misc/Chocolate%20consumption%20cognitive%20function%20and%20nobel%20laurates%20(NEJM).pdf
  4. Cocoa, chocolate and cardiovascular Disease.  http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2797556/
  5. Cocoa flavanol consumption improves cognitive function, blood pressure control, and metabolic profile in elderly subjects: the Cocoa, Cognition, and Aging (CoCoA) Study—a randomized controlled trial. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4340060/
  6. Dark Chocolate and Cocoa May Reduce Blood Pressure
  7. Dark chocolate consumption increases HDL cholesterol concentration and chocolate fatty acids may inhibit lipid peroxidation in healthy  Humans.
  8. Effect of cocoa on blood pressure. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22895979
  9. Long-term ingestion of high flavanol cocoa provides photoprotection against UV-induced erythema and improves skin condition in women.
  10. Postprandial effects of dark chocolate on portal hypertension in patients with cirrhosis: results of a phase 2, double-blind, randomized controlled trial.  http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22811444
  11. Potential benefit of dark chocolate for liver disease patients
  12. Regular consumption of dark chocolate is associated with low serum concentrations of C-reactive protein in a healthy Italian population.
  13. The neuroprotective effects of cocoa flavanol and its influence on cognitive performance
  14. Why Is Dark Chocolate Good for You? Thank Your Microbes
Photos:©2016 Karen J Carlisle.
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