Category Archives: chocolate

Sugar Overpowers Fat in Cravings Test

As a person who has battled his belt line over the years, I have overindulged in sweet treats like ice cream as well as fat treats like pizza. I know that each felt compelling at the time, but it turns out that sugar has more powerful impact on the brain’s pleasure centers than fat, according to a recent study published in the US National Library of Medicine.

Hostess Ho Ho's

Hostess Ho Ho’s

The New York Times picked it up and explained that it is the sugar and not the fat that primarily triggers the brain’s receptors.

“The new research tracked brain activity in more than 100 high school students as they drank chocolate-flavored milkshakes that were identical in calories but either high in sugar and low in fat, or vice versa. While both kinds of shakes lit up pleasure centers in the brain, those that were high in sugar did so far more effectively, firing up a food-reward network that plays a role in compulsive eating. Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under body fat, calories, chocolate, eating, fast food, fat, junk food, sugar, Weight, weight control, weight loss

Why Should I Eat More Dark Chocolate?

With Valentine’s Day a week away, it seemed timely to talk about chocolate. Dark chocolate.

Before starting, let me clarify that the word ‘more’ in the header assumes you are eating little or no dark chocolate at present because here in the U.S. we primarily eat milk chocolate. How much? Good question. Some 71 percent of the chocolate we eat is milk chocolate. And, how much total?

chocrose.11130246_std

The World Atlas of Chocolate puts the U.S. in 11th place worldwide in per capita chocolate consumption with a paltry 11.5 pounds per year. Switzerland is in first place with more than double that total.

As far as a definition of dark chocolate goes, the U.S. has no fixed percentage of cocoa content to define dark chocolate. In practice, however, it seems that 70 percent cocoa solids qualifies as dark chocolate.

But why eat more dark chocolate? Experience L!fe says, “Sure, chocolate’s exquisitely decadent. But its primary ingredient, cocoa, has triple the antioxidants of green tea, helps reduce cholesterol and blood pressure and improves insulin sensitivity.”

They quote Alice Medrich on it. “Alice Medrich, who is credited with bringing the chocolate truffle to the United States in the 1970s, says that when you taste chocolate without all the sugar, you become aware of its deep, earthy, nutty, and fruity flavors. She compares chocolate to wine and says that, like grapes, chocolate has a terroir that reflects the taste of the soil and climate where it’s grown.

“’Sometimes you’ll get some tropical fruit flavors or citrus flavors or cherry or even little hints of orange or coconut,’ says Medrich, author of the cookbook Seriously Bitter Sweet. ‘There are hundreds of flavor components in chocolate, and they can go to the sweet or the savory really easily.'”

FITDAY offers several benefits of dark chocolate, including:
Good for your heart. “Studies show that eating a small amount of dark chocolate two or three times each week can help lower your blood pressure. Dark chocolate improves blood flow and may help prevent the formation of blood clots. Eating dark chocolate may also prevent arteriosclerosis.

Good for your brain. Dark chocolate increases blood flow to the brain as well as to the heart, so it can help improve cognitive function. Dark chocolate also helps reduce your risk of stroke.

Dark chocolate also contains several chemical compounds that have a positive effect on your mood and cognitive health. Chocolate contains phenylethylamine (PEA), the same chemical your brain creates when you feel like you’re falling in love. PEA encourages your brain to release endorphins, so eating dark chocolate will make you feel happier.

Dark chocolate contains caffeine, a mild stimulant. However, dark chocolate contains much less caffeine than coffee. A standard 1.5 ounce bar of dark chocolate contains 27 mg of caffeine, compared to the 200 mg found in an eight ounce cup of coffee.

Helps control blood sugar. “The flavonoids in dark chocolate also help reduce insulin resistance by helping your cells to function normally and regain the ability to use your body’s insulin efficiently. Dark chocolate also has a low glycemic index, meaning it won’t cause huge spikes in blood sugar levels.

Dark chocolate contains theobromine which helps to harden tooth enamel, so unlike most sweets it lowers your risk of cavities. Theobromine also can help to suppress coughing.

The final positive from FITDAY is dark chocolate’s vitamin and mineral content. “The copper and potassium in dark chocolate help prevent against stroke and cardiovascular ailments. The iron in chocolate protects against iron deficiency anemia, and the magnesium in chocolate helps prevent type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease.”

Authority Nutrition
offers the following: “If you buy quality dark chocolate with a high cocoa content, then it is actually quite nutritious.

It contains a decent amount of soluble fiber and is loaded with minerals.
A 100 gram (about 4 ounces) bar of dark chocolate with 70-85% cocoa contains:
• 11 grams of fiber.
• 67% of the RDA for Iron.
• 58% of the RDA for Magnesium.
• 89% of the RDA for Copper.
• 98% of the RDA for Manganese.
• It also has plenty of potassium, phosphorus, zinc and selenium.

Aren’t we all ready for some good news on cholesterol? Well, Authority Nutrition says, “Dark chocolate improves several important risk factors for disease. It lowers the susceptibility of LDL to oxidative damage while increasing HDL and improving insulin sensitivity.”

In case you don’t remember, HDL is the good cholesterol and LDL is the bad. You want higher HDL numbers and lower LDL ones.

Lastly, Authority Nutrition says that “Studies show that the flavanols from cocoa can improve blood flow to the skin and protect it against sun-induced damage.”

I must confess that I had never heard dark chocolate could protect your skin from the sun, but as a skin cancer victim, I am very happy to learn it.

While I would like you to include dark chocolate in your diet, I hope that you know we are talking about reasonable amounts here. You don’t need to eat more than a couple of ounces a day to get the benefits mentioned above.

Tony

4 Comments

Filed under antioxidants, blood pressure, chocolate, cholesterol, dark chocolate, Weight, weight control, weight loss

Healthy Holiday Eating Tips #5 – At Home

Having covered holiday eating situations in which you are the guest, what about the one(s) in which you are the host(ess)?

Here are some suggestions from a presentation by Holly Herrington, MS RD, before Northwestern Memorial Hospital’s Healthy Transitions Program®.

Experiment with Recipes

Don’t feel like you have to make all the traditional food with 100 per cent traditional recipes and ingredients.

Roast Turkey and Stuffing

Feel free to swap high calories ingredients out and put low calories ones in.  For example, you can use low-fat cheese, Greek yogurt vs sour cream, mustard vs mayo, applesauce vs oil, cinnamon vs sugar.

Most pumpkin pie recipes call for at least one cup of cream or evaporated whole milk and two eggs. Use evaporated skim milk and three egg whites to cut about 300 calories and 30 to 38 grams of fat from your pie.

Buy brown and serve bread rolls instead of the higher-fat crescent rolls to cut about 1100 extra calories and about 100 grams of fat per dozen.

Use light cream cheese instead of regular cream cheese in your dips, spreads and cheesecakes to cut about 16 grams of fat per cup of cream cheese.

Make a little less so the temptation is not so great to overeat.

Go easy on the gravy and opt for canned cranberry sauce on your turkey for a nutritious and fat-free option.

Replace the bread in your holiday stuffing with canned chestnuts, a nutritious and different alternative. To further lighten your stuffing and add valuable nutrients, mix in canned, chopped vegetables, too.

Serve meals in the kitchen instead of family-style on the table to avoid reaching for seconds out of convenience.

Put any leftovers in the freezer before sitting down ot eat so as not to be tempted for second helpings.

If you are baking for friends and family, spend a little extra time and money on individual packaging so you are less likely to dip into leftovers.

I hope these suggestions prove helpful to you in your holiday meal preparation. Please feel free to send in your own suggestions as well as substitutions.

You can read the entire Healthy Holiday eating series starting with Tips for Healthy holiday eating and scrolling backwards.

Happy and healthy holiday eating!

Tony

Leave a comment

Filed under chocolate, holiday eating, Weight

Healthy Holiday Eating Tips #4 – At Work

So far I have confined myself to holiday dining with family and friends, but the holiday season contains another diabolical source of bad food – the workplace.

A little personal anecdote here: I worked for a philanthropic organization for my final 10 years before retiring. Holiday time was a very happy period as we were deluged with huge tins of various kinds of popcorn, carmelcorn, kettle corn, etc. We would receive ten pound chocolate bars which were left in the break room with a knife for cutting off a piece. I’m sure it is no surprise to anyone that I weighed upwards of 180 pounds in those days compared with my low 150s now.

One of the reasons I no longer have a weight problem is the 180 degree change in my attitude toward food. I don’t think of food as a pleasure source in itself to be mindlessly consumed like I did as a child. I now think of food as a source of good health and fuel for my body and my activities. You can read further on Whether food is an end or a means in that blog post. I still enjoy the taste of food, but I don’t stop there.

snickersminiaturesbig
One way to look at office snacks is that those little Snickers Bars only amount to 100 calories. What’s the harm? The harm comes from eating a dozen of them for a total over 1000 calories, or more than half of your daily calorie budget of 2000 calories. As it takes 3500 calories to put a pound on your body weight, it wouldn’t take too many days of snacking like this to pack on some weight and waist.

Burning off the holiday treats

Burning off the holiday treats

Another way to look at it is: what do you need to do to burn off 1000 calories.
– One hour on the elliptical machine = 500 calories
– 60 minutes of lifting weights = 300 calories
– One hour of yard work, or stringing up holiday lights = 200 calories
– Or the equivalent of three hours of physical activity.

Maybe seeing the price you pay in physical activity to burn off a snack binge will help to put workplace holiday snacking into a clearer perspective for you.

Eat less; move more … and enjoy the holidays.

Tony

Leave a comment

Filed under chocolate, holiday eating, Weight

Trick or Treat – How Much Chocolate Do We Eat?

Since this is the biggest day for chocolate consumption in the year, I thought it would be worthwhile to check into it.

Do you know how much chocolate the average American eats in a year? One pound? Ten pounds?

As a matter of fact we eat an average of a pound of chocolate a month, so 12 pounds in a year.

chocolate

According to WebMD’s chocolate quiz “We each eat close to a dozen pounds of chocolate per year. And most of that is milk chocolate. More than 90% of Americans say they prefer milk chocolate over dark or white.

“It takes a long time to work off all that chocolate. It would take a 130-pound woman about four days and nights (95 hours) of brisk walking to burn off those calories!”

And I know you have heard that chocolate has caffeine in it, but how much? WebMD says,

“You’d need to eat 14 regular-sized (1.5 oz) bars of  milk chocolate to get the same caffeine as you’d find in a 8-ounce cup of coffee! That would have about  3,000 calories and more than 300 grams of sugar — compared to only about two calories in black coffee.

“Dark chocolate does have more caffeine than milk chocolate. Even then, it would take four bars to give you the same buzz as one cup of regular Joe.”

So, enjoy the evening, but if you are going out with your little trick or treater, keep in mind how much walking is required to burn off those calories.

Tony

3 Comments

Filed under caffeine, calories, chocolate, dark chocolate, Halloween, health, healthy eating, healthy living, snack foods, Snacking, trick or treat, walking, Weight

Is Chocolate a Good Energy Booster?

There are lots of kinds of chocolate, but if you are thinking that milk chocolate, the most popular kind, is a good energy booster because it has caffeine in it, you are incorrect.

WebMD said, “Chocolate does have caffeine. But if you’re looking to get a caffeine boost, chocolate isn’t your best bet.

Chocolate

You’d need to eat 14 regular-sized (1.5 oz) bars of  milk chocolate to get the same caffeine as you’d find in a 8-ounce cup of coffee! That would have about  3,000 calories and more than 300 grams of sugar — compared to only about two calories in black coffee.

Dark chocolate does have more caffeine than milk chocolate. Even then, it would take four bars to give you the same buzz as one cup of regular Joe.”

This is part of a WebMD quiz on chocolate that you can take at the link above.

If you want to boost your energy, eat or drink a tablespoon or two of coconut oil. You can take it straight from the jar, or mix it into your smoothie or energy drink.

Dr. Bruce Fife, certified nutritionist and author of The Healing Miracles of Coconut Oil says the reason coconut oil is such an energy booster is because of its medium chain fatty acids (MCFA). Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under chocolate, coconut oil, endurance sports, energy, energy bars, Exercise, healthy eating, healthy living, Weight

Two-a-Day Chocolates!?

I ran across this box in my Walgreen’s drug store, so I guess it has national distribution. I love this marketing. Full disclosure: I really love chocolate and I eat some every day. When I had a weight problem I ate too much of it. Now I limit my quantities.

Getting back to the marketing. These Maramor chocolates are being marketed as if they were vitamin/mineral supplements. Note the large “with Omega 3 80 mg per serving” in red on the front. Just above the name on the front it states “The Omega-3 in these premium milk chocolates is purified, and a concentrated source of EPA/DHA.”

On the back It states, “Omega-3 provides nourishment to both the body and the brain: The Omega-3 in thee milk chocolate squares is an excellent source of DHA and EPA which benefits every cell in the body. Chocolate contains ingredients that enhance the absorption of Omega-3. ”

They repeat the 80 mg claim and follow with, “This delicious milk chocolate along with a healthy diet can be a concentrated source of Omega-3 for your daily Omega-3 requirements.

The serving size is two pieces (19 grams). It has 100 calories. Total fat 6 grams, saturated fat 3.5 grams, cholesterol 5 mg, Sodium 20 mg, total carbohydrate 11 grams, 0 dietary fiber, 11 grams of sugar and 1 gram of protein.

I compared it with some chocolate I had in my cupboard and the Nutrients are similar.

The ingredients of the Maramor chocolates include Omega-3 refined fish oil and fish gelatin. There was nothing like these in the chocolates from my cupboard.

The bottom line appears to be that Maramor has hit upon a very clever marketing technique to get people to eat their chocolate to a certain extent not only guilt-free, but actually as a healthy supplement.

On the front of the box it states “One Week Supply.”

I wonder if this idea will catch on. I bought a box to write about for you and also to taste. It was nice chocolate. They’re sure more fun than the Fred Flintstone vitamins I gave my kids.

Tony

Leave a comment

Filed under chocolate, healthy eating, men's health