By Martin Brown
Just the thought of love or chocolate is enough to make most of us smile. And it certainly merits a kiss to those who come bearing heart-shaped gift boxes filled with chocolate truffles.
But like love, not all chocolate was created equal. And, just like love, sometimes something called chocolate doesn’t live up to the name.
In fact, dig a little deeper, it’s not really chocolate at all.
When you hear those reports about the health benefits of chocolate, remember that researchers are only talking about the genuine item: cacao. Popular commercial chocolate candies, like those candy bars you loved to receive from neighbors when you went trick or treating as a kid, may look and even taste like chocolate, but that’s not what you’re getting. Actually, they are highly processed chocolate-like products that, in truth, are an unhealthy combination of food flavorings, oils and fats.
Not a good way to say, “I love you,” on Valentine’s Day, or any day of the year.
For a food that is both sweet and good for you, here's how to have your chocolate and eat it, too:
1. Select A Chocolate That’s Made With At Least 72 Percent Cacao Or Higher
Chocolate comes from real cocoa beans. If the product makes no claim as to the amount of cocoa it contains, it’s most likely not the genuine item. In fact, cacao, like vegetables, is loaded with life extending anti-oxidants, a result of their being packed with flavonoids.
Additionally, real cacao-based chocolate has a positive effect on your blood. It contains an anti-clotting agent, which helps in certain cases to reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke.
2. Accept No Substitutes!
The most recent research adds a cautionary note to the anti-oxidant story that we’ve all heard and read about in recent years. Scientists in just the past year have begun to learn that synthetic anti-oxidants -- those found most typically in a variety of vitamin packed supplements, such as pills, shakes, health bars, and more-- do not have the positive impact on us that real anti-oxidants occurring naturally in nature provide.
3. When It Comes To Really Good Chocolate, Less Is More
It also makes it more special, for that special someone.
Here the deal: a number of these health benefits can be found in brightly colored vegetables, such as red, yellow, and orange peppers, and a bright green bouquet of fresh broccoli provides a sure fire dose of natural anti-oxidants.
But, honestly, are you going to give your beloved a basket of fresh vegetables for Valentine’s Day? Of course not!
Giving (and receiving) great chocolate is a wonderful way to say, “I love you.” And the benefits of true love – like that of the magical cocoa bean -- is certain to last a lifetime.
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