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CHOCOLATE HAS HEALTH BENEFITS? FOOD & COOKING ARTICLE

Yes, it is true, Chocolate - real chocolate that is - is now recognised as having many qualities that can be beneficial for your health. By real chocolate I mean products containing a minimum of seventy per cent cocoa solids for plain chocolate and - if you must - a minimum thirty per cent cocoa solids for milk and white chocolate.

The Up Side

Chocolate contains essential trace elements and nutrients such as iron, calcium and potassium, and vitamins A, B1, C, D and E. 

Cocoa powder is also the highest natural source for Magnesium - Magnesium deficiency is linked with hypertension, heart disease, diabetes, joint problems and pre-menstrual tension (PMT or PMS). 

It is a pre-menstrual drop in progesterone levels which is responsible for the violent mood swings familiar to so many women and their families, adding magnesium to a sufferers diet has been proved to increase pre-menstrual progesterone levels, reducing or eliminating the problem. 

There are benefits for men too, as well as the high Magnesium content - beneficial for the heart and hypertension - the fat in high quality plain chocolate (although technically a saturated fat) can be considered cholesterol free, as studies indicate it does not fur up the arteries or contribute to high cholesterol levels. 

Chocolate is good for our mental health, it contains Seratonin and Phenylethylamine both of which are mood lifting agents found naturally in the human brain and released when we are feeling happy or in love. Eating chocolate also releases these agents into the system, thus it can provide a 'lift' when we are feeling down or depressed.

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Chocolate is an excellent nutritional source, a single chocolate chip can provide enough energy for the average man to walk about one hundred and seventy feet or fifty metres. For nearly one hundred years the British and many other Armed Forces around the world have issued soldiers with 'Iron Rations' of chocolate containing very high levels of cocoa solids (eighty per cent plus) for use in emergencies. Each ration, eight ounces or two hundered and twenty-seven grams, has historically not only provided enough nutrition to keep a soldier going for up to seven days or more, it has helped keep up morale in difficult circumstances. The author can personally endorse its effectivness under these conditions. Even Napoleon carried chocolate with him on campaigns.

The Down Side

Chocolate is recognised as being addictive, particularly to Women but, in order to satisfy their craving, most people choose volume produced 'brand name' milk and white chocolate, low in chocolate solids (have less than twenty per cent) but very, very high in sugar content and other nasties and consequently, ruinous to health.  In addition, because of the low chocolate content, addicts have to eat more of this type of product to satisfy a chocolate craving. The upshot is, if you want a guaranteed way to to get very unhealthy, this is one of the most effective ways to way do it.

Incidentally, chocolates, both the commercial variety and, sadly, many hand made varieties, are one of the worst culprits, with centres consisting almost exclusively of flavoured commercially produced Fondant and Pralines - Fondant is virtually 100% sugar and Pralines aren't much better. 

What is the healthiest chocolate?

Plain chocolate containing a minimum 70%+ cocoa solids is the healthiest and therefore the best way to satisfy a craving for chocolate. If you prefer Milk or White Chocolate it should contain a minimum 30%+ cocoa solids. If you like Chocolates choose those with fillings made from chocolate and covered with high quality couverture, not Pralines or Fondants covered with low quality coatings that barely even qualify as chocolate, such as most brand name products.

All is not doom and gloom!

If you love chocolate and chocolates, there is good stuff out there and it is getting more plentiful by the day, as chocolate lovers become more and more discerning and demand for the real thing grows. For the healthiest way to eat chocolate and satisfy a craving, you just have to be more discerning over what you buy.

The author

Arthur Vine is half of a wife and husband team Aphrodite Chocolates based in rural Essex, England. They are passionately dedicated to making 'real' chocolates and truffles entirely by hand from only the finest couverture and natural ingredients with no commercial fondants or pralines and little or no added sugar.

This article is from Arthur Vine who, together with his wife Janet, runs Aphrodite Chocolates. Janet is the Chocolatier.

Aphrodite Chocolates was formed about four years ago. Their delicious luxury chocolates are entirely handmade in rural Essex in the heart of the English countryside.

Janet first began making her wonderful chocolates as a hobby about twelve years ago with the objective of getting away from the boring and sickly fillings like flavoured fondant that form the basis of so many manufactured and handmade chocolate selections today.

To find out more or to order some of the chocolates which can be shipped anywhere in the world < click here >

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