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Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Chocolate for my sweet?

Valentine's Day is around the corner - literally days away. Don’t you think it’s been blown way out of proportion?  The annual advertising blitz calls on us to “Show how much you care” by giving her the “gift that lasts a lifetime” and encouraging kids (and adults) to share and consume tons of artifically-flavored sweets (heart-shaped candy, anyone?).  With that said, I can’t ignore the fact that many of us who are in a relationship will use the holiday as an excuse to exchange gifts with “that special someone.” Which can be loads of fun. Chocolate, of course, has always been a popular gift.

“Oh, divine chocolate!
They grind thee kneeling,
Beat thee with hands praying,
And drink thee with eyes to heaven.”
Marco Antonio Orellana, 18th century

Chocolate presses the same buttons in our brain that stimulate the sensation of love. That is why we consider it a "treat.” When we are "good" we want to feel that sense of worth. Chocolate can sometimes fill that need within us. That’s one reason we give chocolate on a holiday like Valentine's Day. While high quality chocolate is delicious, we should also be sure to gather love from within ourselves and around us, from our relationships. With that said, here are some tips and other nutritional facts about chocolate. 

First, look for Dark Chocolate (70% +) or Raw Cacao. These are the ones that are packed with:
  • Antioxidants (protect us against free radicals)
  • Magnesium (balances brain chemistry, builds strong bones; necessary for good heart function; can be a beneficial during menstruation, as it relaxes the muscle & cramping)
  • Theobromine (stimulants similar to caffeine)
  • Caffeine  (chocolate has less than coffee or tea, but it varies)
  • Phenylethylamine (considered to be the chemical of love, it is released when we indulge in chocolate)
  • Anandamide (Considered the "bliss" chemical. When we are happy we release this chemical in our brains.)
  • MAO Inhibitors (increased serotonin and other neurotransmitters can circulate the brain more freely)
  • Aphrodisiac (not necessarily a nutritional component that can be listed as a compound, but nonetheless, I believe that a superb chocolate drink, dessert, or bar can bring on certain urges.)
The darker more intense the flavor, the less of it you will need to press your buttons. Also, the darker the chocolate means less sugar has been added. Look for bars that are sweetened with natural sweeteners like raw blue agave, raw honey, stevia or maple syrup instead of refined sugars or high fructose corn syrup.

Try dark chocolate bars that have hints of lavender, ginger, or raspberry. These chocolate bars may be more expensive. That means you have to slow down when you eat them and savor the flavors - like wine tasting. Experience the full bodied flavor and essence of chocolate.

Experiment and Enjoy.


Michelle @ Find Your Balance said...

We're pretty much ignoring Valentine's Day. I don't know why, after we got married I think I traded in V-Day for our anniversary. THAT day he can't get away with forgetting, but tomorrow, no biggie :-)

MulberryMary said...

Ah the anniversary. Tomorrow will come and girl I can't wait its our anniversary (Love tony, toni, tone) Yes, that should be very special!

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