Embrace Your Dark Side

Who doesn’t enjoy a nice piece of chocolate? It’s tasty, and can easily replace a sudden sugar craving. If you know your chocolate, you likely know that dark chocolate is a great alternative to satisfy your sweet tooth. Reasonably low on sugar, dark chocolate traces its roots to several thousand years ago in Central America. They usually consumed it by fermenting it and drinking it with wine.

I won’t get into the whole process of how the modern form of it is made, but it’s safe to say that it can be used in many forms and is generally enjoyed by all. To be clear, dark chocolate is any chocolate that contains higher than 50% cocoa and unlike “milk” chocolate, has no milk added to it. Obviously. And if you’re part of the rare percentage of the population who doesn’t enjoy chocolate, move along! This post is not for you…

Dark chocolate is rich in a lot of things, including but not limited to flavanols, which have been proven to help with heart health, lower blood pressure and increase insulin sensitivity. That last one can help reduce the risk of Type-2 Diabetes. Dark chocolate also happens to have high percentages of iron, magnesium, manganese, copper, potassium, phosphorus, zinc and selenium. Healthline.com has a great post that lists the recommended daily intake for all these, and can be found here: https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/7-health-benefits-dark-chocolate#section2

The article goes on to explain how dark chocolate is loaded with antioxidants and is considered brain food. The benefits of increased blood flow to the brain make it so that it increases cognitive function. Not to mention that dark chocolate also contains traces of caffeine, which I’m a big fan of. Two ounces of 70% dark chocolate contains about 60mg of caffeine, which is a bit less than a small coffee at most popular chains. The higher the percentage of cocoa, the higher the caffeine content. Wrap that shit around coffee beans or Swedish berries? Fugedaboutit!

Obviously, in order to reap the most benefits you should try not to cheap out on your chocolate. Get chocolate that’s at least 70% or more. Generic chocolate will often use processing that, although improves flavour, will cause the loss of flavanols, which are one of the key benefits. Another recommendation is NOT to refrigerate your chocolate. I’m guilty of this one. I like the snap and crunch of refrigerated chocolate. But if you keep it in the fridge, it can cause something called “blooming”, which is the white substance that appears on chocolate that’s been sitting around for a long time.

If your chocolate HAS bloomed, you can basically melt it down, stir it up and let it harden and you’re good to go. Granted, I wouldn’t try that with the chocolate you find stuffed at the back of your grandma’s pantry that’s likely been there for thirty years, but I digress…

Don’t go stuffing your face, yet! It’s not all good news. Chocolate, especially dark chocolate, is extremely high in calories. So if you eat it by the fistful, you’re susceptible to weight gain. Dark chocolate may have the benefit of lower sugar content, and the higher the cocoa, the lower the amount of sugar. But you’re basically eating a slab of fat, considering dark chocolate is made of cocoa, butter and sugar. So if you’re eating chocolate to try and raise blood sugar after a low, you may be waiting a long time for it to kick in since your body processes the fat first.

Dark chocolate is best enjoyed by eating a small piece after a meal, melting a square into your coffee or melting it to drizzle on fresh fruit. Despite the health benefits, it can be easy to indulge and overeat. And this is one of my rare exceptions where I encourage people to go organic. Finding dark chocolate that advertises as “organic” is a good thing as it prevent exposure to pesticides and chemicals that may have been sprayed on the cocoa beans.

So grab a slab, melt some down or have a bite. Even a small piece every now and then will allow you to satisfy sugar craving, enjoy the many health benefits and last but not least: you get to eat chocolate! Pairing it with red wine is also an excellent alternative. So, go get you that chocolate, yo! 🍫

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Shawn

I am a practitioner of the martial arts and student of the Buddhist faith. I have been a Type 1 Diabetic since I was 4 years old and have been fighting the uphill battle it includes ever since. I enjoy fitness and health and looking for new ways to improve both, as well as examining the many questions of life. Although I have no formal medical training, I have amassed a wealth of knowledge regarding health, Diabetes, martial arts as well as Buddhism and philosophy. My goal is to share this information with the world, and perhaps provide some sarcastic humour along the way. Welcome!

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