Quick Recipes and Easy

Chocolate Obsession

My like of chocolate has been life-long. I can’t reckon of another taste or texture that brings forth the level of desire or satisfaction that a rich velvety piece of chocolate slowly melting in my mouth can produce. The pure pleasure of chocolate has been reason enough for a lifelong indulgence. My naturally high cholesterol has tried to dissuade me from my like, but has alas failed. I long ago made a conscious choice that a life without chocolate would not be worth eating. I looked for ways that I could have my chocolate without tempting the fates. Frozen yogurt and ice cream were my favorites. It was pretty painless to stay away from the high-stout varieties with so many flavors of chocolate ice cream around. That was until I was introduced to truffles. First I tried Lindt truffles, then the french ones from Trader Joes. There was simply no substitute for this type of euphoria. Well, maybe one. Now they have found their way into my freezer, where they are available at whim. If I want a treat I simply walk into the kitchen. This could be perilous.

Now the hunt was on for rationalizations. There must be something excellent about chocolate that will make up for the danger to my cholesterol. With a small research on my part, I came up with a few excellent ones. According to the University of California “The cocoa butter in chocolate does contain saturated stout, which can increase blood cholesterol levels, and high cholesterol can contribute to heart disease. But, recent research at the University of California, Davis, has found that chocolate carries high levels of chemicals known as phenolics, some of which may help lower the risk of heart disease. Plants such as chocolate, coffee, tea and others contain high levels of antioxidant phenolics.” (Exploratorium Magazine) “Chocolate is also a rich source of magnesium and phosphorus and, contrary to well loved belief, chocolate contains only a limited amount of caffeine. An average chocolate contains about 10 mg of caffeine, while one cup of coffee contains 100 mg.” (Yale-New Haven Hospital) If you add nuts to the chocolate, it ups the nutritional value even more. What more of an excuse does one need?

But wait, there’s more: Two studies — one by the Pennsylvania School of Medicine and another by the U.S. Naval Academy — showed that eating chocolate (or not eating it) neither causes nor aggravates acne. (Exploratorium Magazine)

And on another note, it has been suggested that “serotonin and other chemicals found in chocolate, most notably phenethylamine, can act as mild sexual stimulants. Chocolate intake has been linked with release of serotonin in the brain, which is thought to produce feelings of pleasure.”(Wikipedia) What could be terrible about that?

But, if none of these reasons are excellent enough, how about the fact that chocolate has been used as a sacred symbol in religious ceremonies? Plus, medicinal remedies featuring chocolate have been used as household curatives across the globe.” (FieldMuseum.com) For example, chocolate beans contain amino acids, many of which have been shown to have an antidepressant effect.(Planetbotanic)

Now these are all excellent reasons to continue a like affair with chocolate. But it really just comes down to one thing. Life is full of trade-offs. There is no reason even a high-cholesterol person cannot delight in an occasional chocolate obsession, as long as it fits into a basically healthy lifestyle. If chocolate is what gives you pleasure then find a way to fit it into your life with the least possible adverse effects. I reckon for me I’ll have to remove them from my freezer and make real chocolate more of a treat. But, a low-stout chocolate ice cream cone will never be out of reach.

Alissa Lane

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