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Monday, January 30, 2017

Death, or Rather, Health by Chocolate

Did you know. . .

  • Revolutionary War soldiers were sometimes paid in chocolate.
  • Chocolate syrup was used for the shower scene in Psycho.
  • Average American consumes 51 chocolate bars each year.  
  • Scent of chocolate in a bookstore made people 40% more likely to buy cookbooks or romance novels.

Quiz time:

  1. Which country consumes the most chocolate? Swiss eat 22 pounds per person per year, Australians eat 20 lbs.  and USA is 11th place at 12 pounds per person per year.
  2. Which country produces the most chocolate? Ivory Coast
  3. Which state is the only one to commercially grow cacao beans in the US? Hawaii
  4. In which state was found the earliest signs of chocolate in America? Utah – near Canyonlands
  5. What health benefits does dark chocolate provide? Decreased blood pressure, improved cholesterol levels, decreased inflammation, and can reduce the risk of heart disease.

What to look for on a chocolate label: 
            10 – 35 % cacao = milk chocolate
            35 – 55 % cacao = semi sweet or dark
            55 – 90 % cacao = bittersweet or extra dark

Health benefits of dark chocolate start showing up at the 70% (bittersweet range).  Semi sweet is usually closer to %50, but the labels and numbers get very murky.  
If you have a hard time finding a nice dark bittersweet chocolate, try making your own by melting equal parts of semi sweet and unsweetened baking chocolate.  

Always check the ingredient order and fiber content. Unsweetened chocolate should top the ingredient list.  The higher the fiber, the darker the chocolate, and the more accompanying health benefits it will provide.

Chocolate in small portions can be part of a healthy diet.  The darker the chocolate, the more health benefits it has, but sometimes buying bittersweet chocolate can get a little expensive.  An easy way to make your own, is to take equal parts of semi-sweet chocolate chips and unsweetened baking chocolate.  Microwave for 30 seconds and stir, repeat until melted and smooth.  This gives you an easy inexpensive way to make your own 72 -75 % cacao bittersweet chocolate which you can then use as you wish. 

One of the nutritional benefits of dark chocolate is that it often comes with other healthful food such as fruit and nuts. 

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