Chocolate: Superfood or Junk Food?
Chocolate: Superfood or Junk Food?
By Joan McDaniel November 15, 2013 Updated July 18, 2014
If America and the World didn’t have a sweet tooth before this confectioner entered the food market they sure did after. There has always been a candy market but this man built an empire and developed a utopian village deep in the heart of America’s Quaker farming country. He projected the image of religious wholesomeness and health with his product of milk chocolate. Never mentioning the high sugar content, America almost immodestly developed a taste for this product then became addicted to its sugar.
Today according to the American Diabetes Association; In America we now have a diabetes epidemic, over 26 million Americans have the disease and 1.9 million the diabetes new cases are diagnosed each year. The rate of increase of obesity has climbed by a similar epidemic rate.
Milton Snaverly Hershey (September 13, 1857 – October 13, 1945) was an American confectioner, philanthropist, and founder of The Hershey Chocolate Company and the “company town” of Hershey, Pennsylvania.
The company’s image of it product of pure milk chocolate became part of an American tradition; it was even part of the U.S. Army field ration in World War II. And in many instances it acted as currency or barter when cash money was scarce.
Candy and chocolate are now used to celebrate at least five American holidays that I know of. Easter, Hanukkah, Christmas Valentine’s Day and what would we do without chocolate on Halloween? Anyone remember Hershey’s Easter Bunny? I would eat the ears first.
The product was presented as being a natural part of the farm with pictures of milk cows and the image of being healthy and fortified with added Vitamins C, Calcium and D. The antioxidant flavanols that make cacao so health is very bitter to the taste and was removed, sugar and corn syrup was added instead. Not only the added sugar but the high heat in roasting and the chemicals added during food processing have removed any nutrition. Now I call that junk food.
The product called Hershey’s Milk Chocolate is nothing but addictive sugar.
All sort of brands of chocolate line the grocery store shelves. You also see several colors of chocolate like dark brown, light brown and white. It all should be considered Junk food. Read the label – 24 Grams of Sugar in the brown, 18 to 20 Grams in the White and look at the label for what is called dark chocolate. White chocolate is also high in sugar and contains none of the phytonutrients as raw cacao, so is not a good choice either.
Dark Chocolate Hershey Brand
Note: more than have the content of this product is sugar. Sugar 24g 1 bar serving size 43 g.
The statement, “Dark Chocolate is Good for You” should mean the raw cacao bean which is anything but sweet. Also note the product “Dark Chocolate” isn’t any healthier than the lighter chocolate just take a look at the back of the label. It may have the addition of Cocoa Butter but, if there is any reduction in the amount of sugar it is just a few grams like 11 – 17 G which is still way too high for one portion and is still considered junk food even if it has the saturated fat of butter.
Dark Chocolate sometimes refers to the Percent of Cacao bean
There are cacao bars on the market. The label should read at least 75% Cacao. The higher the percent the less sugar is used. But the closer you get to the natural bean state is the healthiest and completely free from sugar.
First Sugar Was Added to Food Products, then Corn Syrup then High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS)
American’s are so addicted to sugar that when sugar prices became prohibitive in 1950’s and 60’s the chemists invented something to replace it called High Fructose Corn Syrup many times more sugary and addictive than sugar. HFCS was rapidly introduced to many processed foods and the soft drink industry with tremendous success in the 70’s.
Don’t Even Think of Using Sugar Free
Just a word in passing — If you think going SUGAR FREE is some sort of solution read an old article of mine which links to Dr. Mercola’s excellent article on the deadly artificial sugar, than has video from the Health food channel outlining its health dangers.
The Cacao Bean a Superfood
The raw natural Cacao bean is chocolate. The image we have of milk chocolate is sweet very sweet but its origin the Cacao bean is anything but. Listening to “Dark chocolate is good for you”, I bought a bar of 75% Cacao with the anticipation of a child at Christmas of sweet milk chocolate and had to spit it out – I could not chew it. It was the bitterest thing I have ever tasted. It almost took my breath away.
Yet the cacao bean is one of the healthiest foods on the planet. It is considered a superfood due to its having more than 300 nutrients. In fact, it contains eight times the number of antioxidants found in strawberries. It is filled with essential vitamins and minerals, as well as antioxidants.
The image we have of sweet chocolate isn’t the raw cacao bean. It is anything but sweet. The health statement “Dark chocolate is good for you” means from the raw cacao bean or as raw as you can get. The image of chocolate sweetness is just a successful marketing ploy that has us addicted and consuming sugar by the tons.
There are cacao bars on the market. The label will tell you how much Cacao there is the best is at 75%. The higher the percent the less sugar is used. But the closer you get to the natural bean state is the healthiest.
Pictured above is the Raw Cacao Pod which comes from the Cacao Plant, Cocoa Beans which are inside the Cacao Pod and the final product Chocolate. To make chocolate, you’re going to need a healthy supply of its core ingredient – cocoa beans, which are found inside the pods of the cacao plant.
Ancient Society’s worship the Cacao
The ancient Mayans referred to cacao as the ‘food of the gods’. They grew cacao trees in their household gardens.
The cocoa bean has been considered by previous societies as “the food of the gods”, with superior nutritional and medicinal value that has given it a value as a currency as well.
The cocoa bean has been used by ancient societies for the treatment of aphrodisiac, coughs, depression, digestive aid, diuretic, combat metal fatigue, fever, PMS, pregnancy pains, and vasodilation.
Warning KEEP Chocolate AWAY FROM YOUR PETS
Cacao contains theobromine – a very mild stimulant with a mild diuretic action and can be very toxic to animals like cats, dogs, parrots and horses. These animals do not have the ability to digest it and it could lead to cardiac arrest.
Benefits of the Cacao Bean
- Contains flavanols, a type of flavonoid which act as antioxidants and help fight against free radical damage. In fact, they contain eight times the number of antioxidants found in strawberries.
- contains an antioxidant called epicatechin, thought to help shield your nerve cells from damage.
- high in resveratrol, a potent antioxidant found in red wine, known for its ability to cross your blood-brain barrier to help protect your nervous system.
- One 2012 meta-analysis found that eating chocolate could slash your risk of cardiovascular disease by 37 percent and your stroke risk by 29 percent.
- Longevity Benefits – Multiple studies have shown that chocolate helps for a longer, disease free life. The world’s longest living women who lived to age 122, was thought to have lived for so long due to her heavy consumption of dark chocolate – 2.5 pounds each week.
- Helps reduce the risk of developing dementia and slows signs of aging. Regular consumption protects brain structure and function.
- Contains minerals which include calcium, copper, iron, magnesium, potassium, sulfur, and zinc.
- Contains vitamins A, B1, B2, B3, B5, B8, D, and E, and is a good source of protein and fiber.
- Contains 50% fat in the form of foleic acid, a monounsaturated fat also found in olive oil plus saturated fats found in coconut oil. It is a healthy fat needed for the body to function properly
- Some people worry about the caffeine content of cacao, but it is minimal
- Cocoa beans contain very low amounts of caffeine , much less than the ones found in coffee, tea and soda.
- Inhibits cell division and reduces inflammation which is also a cause of cancer.
- Improves circulation
- Lowers Blood Pressure
- Theombromine, an alkaloid found in cacao, has been linked to stimulating the central nervous system and providing the body with a boost of energy.
- I makes you feel good by stimulating endorphin production
- Contains phenylethylamine (PEA), which affects brain chemistry in a similar fashion to falling in love.
- Increase the release of the neurotransmitter serotonin, a natural compound which helps with depression
- Is a good source of protein and fiber.
According to Dr. Carolyn Dean
Cocoa or dark chocolate the one without the sugar is loaded with Magnesium. According to her; “In his article Dark Chocolate Health Benefits, Dr. Mercola lists 16 different benefits. But nobody mentions the real reason dark chocolate is so powerful.
“Most people who read my work have already guessed that it’s MAGNESIUM. All the claims for health benefits of dark chocolate are the same ones attributed to magnesium. The highest amounts of magnesium are found in seaweed and dark chocolate. Like most people I’ll go with the chocolate.” Carolyn Dean also provides her own magnesium and she says; “make sure to take ReMag, my highly absorbed magnesium, every day”
Cacao is simply GOOD FOR YOU
Cacao – The plant, see Cacao tree
Cacao bean or cocoa bean – Cacao is a Mayan word meaning the seed of the Theobroma cacao plant. It is the dried and fully fermented fatty seed from the cocoa pod (fruit) of the plant. Cocoa solids and cocoa butter are extracted from this seed. The seed is also the basis of chocolate as well as many Mesoamerican foods such as mole sauce and tejate.
Cacao Tree Flower – The flowers bloom along the trunk of the older branches of the cacao tree. The flowers are small with a pink calyx.
Chocolate – The solid food or candy made from a preparation of cacao seeds (roasted); if the cacao seeds are not roasted, then you have “raw chocolate,” which is also typically sweetened
Cocoa – Refers to the powder made from roasted, husked and ground cacao seeds, from which the fat has been removed
Cocoa butter – The fat component of the cacao seed
Cocoa pod (fruit) – Contains the Cocoa bean it has a leathery, rough and thick rind or outer skin. The pod is filled with sweet mucilaginous pulp called ‘baba de cacao’ in South America and encloses 30 to 50 large seeds that are fairly soft and white to a pale lavender color. Once dried these seeds become a violet or reddish brown in color. There is a variety of white cacao which is cultivated by the Rama people in Nicaragua.
Cocoa Seed Roasted – if the cacao seeds are not roasted, then you have “raw chocolate,”
Cocoa Tree – Is an evergreen of the species Theobroma cacao, cultivated for its seeds or beans known as cacao or cocoa beans. The tree can grow from 15 to 25 feet tall.
Ways to enjoy real chocolate or the Cacao nut
Initially bitter, the chocolate should be organic, raw, non-roasted, no sugar added they are naturally without sugar but some manufactures roast the sugar with the bean.
Whole Bean -You can get the whole natural bean – This shell of the nut is hard to crack for it needs to be peeled which is labor intensive. It takes around 400 beans to make one pound of chocolate.
Nibs – You can get the natural bean that has been peeled and crushed into ‘nibs’ this is my favorite for you can use them as toppers for savory dishes or combine with coconut crystals or crush a stevia leaf to add sweetness.
Cocoa butter – the pure oil of the cacao bean
Cacao powder – Created by peeling and cold pressing the cacao beans. This is great for a hot chocolate drink mixed with a dab of “Sweet-Leaf Stevia”
Cacao Bar – You can get a bar which contains as high as 90% cacao but the raw roasted bean has much more nutritional value. The manufacturing process and high heat needed to make the bar removes many of the valuable nutrients like chromium, manganese, omega-6 fatty acids, and Vitamin C. More nutrients are left intact when only the low temperature is used to roast the raw cacao bean.
I enjoy and eat Cacao nibs with almost every meal. I sprinkle it over what I’m eating. I don’t taste its bitterness, but get the benefits. It does give a crunchy taste to the dish. Eating Nibs, cranberries, and walnuts not only helped me get well, they help me break a 30 year smoking habit. Now that is not junk!
We’ve all heard about the benefits of chocolate and it’s heart-healthy properties.
But how healthy is that chocolate, really?
Most chocolate is processed to a state that would not be recognizable to the South American natives who have been using the cacao plant for thousands of years.
Is there something that still gives us the benefits of chocolate without the chemical processing and unhealthy sugars?
Not everyone agrees on the benefits, yet some say chocolate in its natural form is loaded with antioxidants, minerals, and a host of other goodies.
See for yourself.
The Real Food Channel
What about chocolate?
Chocolate provides all kinds of great health benefits!
Or does it?
Is there a way of getting the health benefits we’ve been sold without heavy processing and toxic sugars of commercial chocolate?
Emotions run high over chocolate, and there’s a lot of disagreement.
Here is one view.
Until next time