Some call it a food group. It just means that much and tastes that good. While it's not the healthiest food in some ways there are many health benefits to eating chocolate too. Dark chocolate is of course the best, as it has the most cocoa and therefore the flavonoids, which provide the benefits.
The flavonoids have antioxidant properties, which have the potential to help prevent cancer, heart disease, and stroke. Natural cocoa powders are the best, and when you're shopping for chocolate you can get the best benefit from chocolates with the highest cocoa content. In addition, milk chocolate has more fat and calories due to the milk content than darker chocolates do. The benefits aren't extreme and unfortunately not worth overindulging in chocolate. They do give a delightful bonus to one of life's little pleasures.
The occasional dark chocolate is about as good for you as the occasional glass of red wine, which also contains flavonoids. A new potential benefit has been discovered by Children's Hospital & Research Center Oakland. They've found that chocolate can help with diarrhea by limiting the production of fluids.
The flavonoids appear to bind to a protein called CFTR, and then inhibit them. This discovery is promising for its potential to be developed as a cheap treatment with few or no side effects. Only time will tell on that possibility, of course. Some worry about the stearic acid found in chocolate. Stearic acid is a saturated fat, but some say it's a neutral so far as risk to the heart while others say it has been shown to be a problem.
As with many health topics it can be very hard to decide what to believe. You can call chocolate addictive but it isn't really, or at least there's no evidence that it is. It's just a delight to eat. It contains a variety of chemicals that can improve your mood but in very small quantities.
The absolute best way to indulge in chocolate is to use cocoa powder in recipes that have other healthy ingredients. You can substitute cocoa powder for baking chocolate in some recipes to decrease the fat content. To make many baked goods even better for you, use just egg whites rather than the entire egg and replace butter and oil with unsweetened applesauce. To finish this article off, I'd like to include a favorite recipe for chocolate meringue.
There's a lot of sugar in this recipe, so it's not 100% healthy but they're quite decadent without a lot of calories. 2 egg whites 1/2 cup sugar 1 teaspoon vanilla extract 3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder 1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips Preheat oven to 250 degrees. Beat the egg whites in a large bowl at high speed until peaks start to foam.
Slowly add sugar as you continue to beat. Keeping beating until stiff peaks form. Mix in vanilla and cocoa powder while beating at a lower speed. Mix chocolate chips in by hand.
Cover a baking sheet in foil or parchment paper. Drop spoonfuls of meringue about an inch apart. Bake for one hour. Turn off oven and leave meringues in the cooling oven for at least two more hours to allow the meringues to completely dry. Store in an airtight container.
Stephanie Foster runs http://www.gimmechocolate.com/ and is maybe just a little obsessed with chocolate. Visit her site to find more chocolaterecipes.