Thursday, August 14, 2008

Debunking the Bunk - Chocolate

We've all learned that chocolate is bad for you. All those candy bars and pies and cakes and cookies are squarely in the "don't eat me or you'll feel guilty" column. And what with all the recent press about the obesity epidemic going on in this country, there seems to be more and more emphasis on all those yummy things we're just NOT supposed to eat. Chocolate's a no-brainer, right? After all, it's sweet, pre-packaged, and high in calories. So we should steer clear, right?

Well, not always.

There are a couple kinds of chocolate, and not all of them are really that bad for you. Some actually have some health benefits (in moderation, dangit!). And it still has a lot of calories, so you have to balance it out by eating fewer other yummy foods.

1. Dark chocolate (and I'm talking 70% and higher cocoa) has been proven to lower blood pressure in some people (I wonder how many bars the stressed Olympians go through?), as well as being an antioxidant. To quote "A hint: Don't replace healthy foods with chocolate. Most people's diets have plenty of sweets. Switch those for some chocolate if you're going to try the truffle treatment." I like this idea...truffle treatment!

2. Flavored dark chocolate - will have the same amount of antioxidants and blood pressure lowering properties as long as there's no milk in the bar (why oh why does milk have such a bad effect on chocolate? pooh!). I've had some tasty chili chocolate, or mint chocolate, or ginger chocolate.

3. Milk chocolate - my personal favorite. When I studied in Toulouse, France, I'd go to the chocolatier and buy a big block of milk chocolate to gnaw on in the movie theater. Didn't do great things for my teeth, but man was it yummy! As mentioned before, the milk in this chocolate completely counteracts its health benefits. I found a pink salt and goji berry milk chocolate bar recently that's just heavenly. And it's so rich that I can't eat more than two or three little squares without going on overload.

4. White chocolate - is the least like real chocolate (and in fact, the USDA doesn't consider it to be chocolate at all since it doesn't have cocoa solids). It has to have at least 20% cocoa butter, and the rest is sugar, milk fat and milk solids. They even have a white chocolate bar with olives in it!

So while unfortunately chocolate isn't going to be a healthy choice to replace, say, breakfast, it's not the big evil it's been made out to be! I'm getting better at liking dark chocolate...

Some other uses for chocolate:

1. To plug up a flesh-eating acid leak (MacGyver, episode 1)
2. Brush your teeth (whatwhat?!)
3. Wrestle in it (for all those guys out there who couldn't wait to see the women mud wrestling, here's one even better! And then afterwards there's the adult fun (link safe for work) with chocolate...)
4. To stop addictions (ok, so eating chocolate to STOP a chocolate addiction isn't going to help, really, but it sure will taste good!)
5. Worship it (apologies if you find this blasphemous. Personally, having no religion, I find it rather amusing to think people out there are eating their Gods)
6. It's da bomb! (could be an April Fool's joke, but this looks like some serious fun, if it's really real!)
7. Make a 4-way (no, get your mind out of the gutter now! This is toast with olive oil, salt and chocolate. Sounds intriguing...)
8. Make a fire (ok, so I was expecting the chocolate itself to be making the fire, and I was very intrigued. Apparently, chocolate is a good polishing agent to polish the bottom of a soda can, which can then reflect sunlight onto some tinder. Just in case you're ever stuck in the woods with no matches but happen to have candy and soda)
9. Seek revenge (so this is what they mean when they say "bite someone's head off"...)
10. Clear up zits (seriously?! You mean no more stress/PMS zit outbreaks? All I have to do to solve that is eat some chocolate? Sign me up!)


Leah J. Utas said...

Where do I sign up for truffle treatment?

Chili and chocolate is a good combo. Lindt make a bar with chocolate, chili and a few other tasty, healthy ingredients.
I add chili powder when I make brownies. It smoothes the flavour and makes them extra-healthy.

The Lethological Gourmet said...

I add chocolate powder when I make chili, so that's the direct opposite of your chili brownies! But that sounds awesome, I should try that much chili do you put in a batch of brownies?

Leah J. Utas said...

Start with an eighth-teaspoon and build from there. You may have to make several batches before you find the right mix for you.
ahh what we sacrifice in the name of science...
I've used up to a half-teaspoon. The more dark chocolate in the mix the greater the amount of chili.