Although some people have allergies, and others prefer different tastes, it is generally safe to say that people all around the world love chocolate. This dark confectionary has been a favorite of many for hundreds of years, and it celebrated at festivals and in homes across the globe. Not only is it a long-celebrated sweet, it can also be prepared over a hundred different ways, with just as many varieties, from dark to milk. Anywhere you go, you can find chocolate made in a way that was entirely new to you, from fondue fountains, to being iced with oranges. So I thought I would spend some time and talk about my favorite chocolates from all over the place.
Most of the time, I leave the work to professionals. After all, there are people who have made their career out of making chocolate- such as confectioners, pastry chefs, and chocolatiers. These people, along with candy corporations, make the world a better place, which I salute. Trust me, I would be a horrible person if not for the invention of chocolate.
That doesn’t always mean I want to go out and buy it all the time. That’s no fun, and it requires effort, like leaving the house. Besides, sometimes the mood just strikes me to whip something up- and why should I pay into some big company or high-priced chocolate shop, when I can do for myself at home? Not everyone knows how to make chocolate though, which is sad, because it really is a simple dessert that anyone can enjoy, with very work on your part. Thus, I wanted to give my readers a very basic how-to on making homemade chocolate, from scratch.
Mostly everyone agrees that chocolate is awesome. Those who don’t, well, they’re silly and they have no idea what they are missing. Chocolate is great- I love the stuff, and everyone I know loves it too. And chocolate isn’t just good- it’s good for you. In moderation of course; I’m definitely not telling anyone to go out and stuff their faces, because it’s not like diabetes is a hoax. But in small amounts, ingesting chocolate can have several health benefits that most people aren’t aware of.
As with anything else, when you buy chocolate, try to go for the simplest, easiest to read labels. You don’t want to buy Snickers, or M-&-M’s, things with a lot of processed sugars and unnecessary dyes. These detract from the healthy elements within chocolate itself, and often cancel those benefits out. I would recommend going with European labels, such as Lindt, which deal almost exclusively in pure cocoa, or making chocolate at home. Be careful if you are making chocolate from scratch though, burning cocoa will create impurities and destroy the natural antioxidants found in this bean.
It is well known that chocolate increases the chances of high blood pressure and, cholesterol and diabetes, but dark chocolate has proven to be an unbeatable force against the same conditions.
Among the numerous benefits of dark chocolate, the ones that are considered most significant are; easy food digestion, preventing insulin resistance, reducing cortisol levels and stress and preventing overeating.
Insulin resistance has a lot to do with weight gain. Insulin is a component that transports blood glucose in the body cells. A high intake of sugar can result in the excess release of insulin, which will make cells resistant to insulin and will block the path of blood glucose from entering the body cells.
As a result, the body feels starvation and the food intake is increased. Thus weight is gained and the solution is to prevent insulin resistance which is done effectively by dark chocolate.
Dark chocolate can play a major role in helping weight loss, as the fat in dark chocolate is regarded as a good fat by the scientists. The fats in dark chocolate can be listed as follows :-
- Oleic acid – monounsaturated fat
- Palmitic acid – saturated fat
- Steric acid – saturated fat
Since these fats do not affect the cholesterol levels in the body, they can support weight loss effectively and therefore dark chocolate has been able to top the list of weight loss supporting food.
The procedure of weight loss in dark chocolate involves reductions in food cravings between meals and this ultimately reduces overeating. According to a study carried out by Denmark scientists, the calorie intake of an individual who had consumed dark chocolate several hours earlier is about 15% less than that of someone who has consumed something different.
They also found out that one bar of dark chocolate a day can notably reduce cravings for snack food.
Apart from the dose of minerals such as calcium, magnesium, zinc, potassium, manganese and copper, one of the major components in dark chocolate is cocoa flavanol or flavanoid, which is an efficient anti-oxidant that can combat unnecessary weight gain. In addition to controlling weight, studies have shown that glucose tolerance is increased by flavanols, thus serving as an effective treatment for type 2 diabetes.
For those who prefer buying alternative supplements instead of consuming chocolate, there are a number of cocoa extract supplements that are available in the market. There are numerous companies in the world that offer cocoa extract weight loss supplements that include flavanols. The results can be noted after two or three weeks of consuming the supplements and the list of benefits includes anti-carcinogenic uses also.
Among the different type of weight loss methods, consuming dark chocolate is the safest and when considering the benefits of consuming dark chocolate, it can be regarded as the most effective as well.
Dark chocolate is a very good fighter against high blood pressure, cardiovascular disorders, stress and even specific types of cancer. Therefore it is a sensible and worthy option for weight loss, as opposed to more complex (and expensive) treatments such as lap band surgeries.
Who would have thought that eating chocolate could help us lose weight?!
Fitness And Nutrition Go Hand In Hand
It seems like everyone is into working out these days, as more and more people are incorporating healthy habits into their everyday life.
But time and time again I see people who will visit the gym regularly and put in many hours on the treadmill, only to stop by their local pub on the way home and eat all the salty, fatty foods that every nutritionist tells us to stay away from.
Some would argue that because of all the workouts they do, they can afford to have a few indulgences, but those transgressions should be few and far between.
Eating healthy foods is a natural extension of maintaining your overall fitness level.
But many of the foods we choose every day are loaded with sugar and salt and even though they’re advertised as healthy, they can end up being quite the opposite.
Some of the meal choices we make every day, especially when we are on the run, would make our fitness coaches cringe and think they are working for nothing.
See below for some deadly snacks and their healthy alternatives for people who are on the go all the time.
Potato Chips – Kettle fried potato chips taste so good, but are so bad for you. And they’re so easy to binge on.
Instead, try some baked potato chips, or even air popped popcorn.
You can even have a handful of nuts for a quick snack during the day.
Nuts contain a great deal of fat, but it’s the healthy fat that is better for you than other kinds, and the protein will keep you feeling full.
French Fries – One of my favorites, and also one of the worst offenders.
Nothing is quite as satisfying in my opinion, but I stay as far away from them as I can.
Instead, I order a baked potato and side order of salsa to jazz it up.
Stay away from the butter and sour cream if you can.
Another great option is pita chips and hummus, a very healthy alternative and served almost everywhere these days.
Candy Bar – Again, one of my favorites, but I try to walk by these machines and ignore them at the checkout counter these days.
A typical candy bar can have between 10 and 30 grams of fat, not to mention way too many calories and too much sugar as well.
Fruits such as mangoes and kiwi are a nice option if you have a sweet tooth, but they are sometimes hard to make portable and have handy all the time.
A handful of granola or trail mix can be a quick alternative as well, but be careful , because there are some granolas out there that have very high fat content.
If you absolutely must have chocolate, opt for the dark variety.
Dark chocolate has a very high cocoa concentration, which, because of the antioxidants and other nutrients such as Copper and Manganese, has been proven to be very good for you.
You should look for dark chocolate with 70-85% cocoa, but be warned, the high the cocoa, the more bitter it can taste
And of course, moderation is again the watchword here. Too much of any kind of chocolate has too many calories and is also high in sugar.
We’ve obviously just scratched the surface here, but you get the idea.
Virtually all the foods that have been determined to be unhealthy for you have delicious alternatives that can be very satisfying.
Don’t waste your time in the gym.
Instead, increase the effectiveness of your daily workout by combining healthy eating habits to obtain your optimum performance.