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University of South Florida

The Chocolate Mystic


Is Valentine’s Day about love or is it really about the chocolate and pure indulgence? The seductive, decadent allure of chocolate is enough to tempt and entice even the strictest of waist watchers and carb counters.

Humanity has always been in love with the seemingly magic cocoa bean, dating back to Aztecs and the emperor Montezuma (1466-1520), who was rumored to have indulged in the delights of cocoa beans to fuel his romantic prowess.

The connection between love and chocolate is steeped in many different versions in history. In present day we continue to be obsessed with the pleasure of chocolate — the heart wants what it wants. Can the heart take it? Yes, it can.

Eat It, It’s Good For You

Dark chocolate is made from a higher concentration of cocoa bean than other chocolates, and is full of nutrients.

“Dark chocolate contains much more cocoa solids than milk chocolate. It’s the cocoa that is rich in flavanol,” said Jane Norman Dietitian, with the USF Diabetes and Endocrinology Center. “Some studies suggest a link between consuming 1 -2 small squares of dark chocolate daily and increased health of the cardiovascular system.”

Dark chocolate has the ability to lower your bad cholesterol and increase your good cholesterol, and some studies show it can boost your mood.

Dark Chocolate Contains:

Flavanols – antioxidants found in cocoa bean that help support good circulation and blood vessel health, as well as enhance brain health.
Potassium – good for blood pressure
Magnesium- good for bone health and blood pressure
Copper and zinc – good for the body’s metabolism
Vitamins B – boosts energy production
Vitamins C, E – good for energy production and antioxidants.

So Much Chocolate To Love

Dark chocolate, the “good chocolate,” is the clear winner regarding health benefits.The other chocolates do not fare so well:

Milk chocolate, while silky smooth and satisfying, is a processed food and much of the cocoa bean’s nutrients get stripped away during processing. Milk chocolate is made up of cocoa and milk solids, cream and sugar, which gives the chocolate its sweeter smooth texture.

White chocolate, so creamy and rich, is not an actual chocolate but a by-product of the cocoa bean called cocoa butter. The cocoa butter is blended with milk to create this delicious treat.

“Remember chocolate is high in sugar and calories, so consume in moderation,” Norman said.

Chocolate Shopping: Choosing The Perfect Chocolate

When shopping for the perfect bite of dark chocolate read the label. Make sure the chocolate contains more than 60% cocoa bean and is made with cocoa butter, and not hydrogenated oils.



Written by Ercilia Colón





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