Let me tell you, the quickest route to a girl’s heart is through her stomach!
Forget looks, fame and fortune, a man has to be able to cook. Or willing to go out at strange hours to buy chocolate, the ultimate in sugar replacement therapy.
Easter is my idea of chocolate heaven – who can resist the glorious smooth, creamy brown squares or give in to the temptation of warm velvet melting in their mouths? Now is the time for chocoholics to come out of the closet because it’s official – chocolate is actually good for you!
According to Dutch and American studies, dark chocolate (not milk chocolate!) contains strong anti-oxidant protection against degenerative disease. It also gives an instant lift to your spirits, acting like an antidepressant. The theory is that chocolate contains a chemical called phenylethylamine which occurs naturally in the brain and is released at times of emotional arousal. So, bin the Prozac and put the “nookie-factor” to good use instead…
Chocolate is an excellent source of chromium, magnesium and iron. Admittedly, you get more magnesium from 2 small bananas and more iron from two spears of broccoli than a 50g bar of milk chocolate, but no need to be overly pedantic this weekend! There are also useful amounts of protein, trace minerals and some B vitamins in chocolate.
I bet you didn’t know that chocolate is less likely to cause tooth decay than sweets. This may be due to the natural tannins in cocoa which inhibit the growth of dental plaque. It also helps to digest milk: lactose intolerant patients have shown reduced bloating, cramping and diarrhoea when cocoa was added to their milk.
Okay, so there are some drawbacks, well quite a few actually. Such a concentrated form of sugar improves energy in the short term but makes you more tired later on, increasing cravings for a further sugar, coffee or nicotine fix. Chocolate is loaded with saturated fat. If you want to burn off the calories contained in a 100g bar of chocolate, you need to pedal your bike or swim nonstop for one hour, or else walk very briskly for 2 hours!
The stimulants caffeine and theobromine contained in chocolate increase alertness but may trigger migraine attacks and cause insomnia in some people. One small bar of dark chocolate contains more caffeine than a cup of instant coffee, therefore is best eaten in moderation.
Carob, sold in most health food stores, may be a good alternative for people who are allergic to chocolate or wish to avoid caffeine. It is packed with nutrients, but when made into carob chocolate can be just as high in fat as the real thing. Here’s some sound advice from Miss Piggy from Sesame Street to help you cope with temptation this weekend: “Never eat more than you can lift.” Happy Easter!
Caroline Jeremy’s book “Green & Black’s Chocolate Recipes: Unwrapped – from the Cacao Pod to Muffins Mousses and Moles” is, according to a review in ‘The Bookseller’…
“…utterly gorgeous – a chocolate fantasy come true… A must!”
As a nutrionist, I couldn’t possibly comment!