“A pound of chocolate a day, a healthy diet and plenty of exercise".
That’s what the actress Katherine Hepburn, a self-confessed chocoholic, said was the secret of her longevity.
She may well have been onto something. Researchers have found that taking small daily doses improves blood flow, decreases bad cholesterol and can reduce the chance of heart attack and stroke.
That’s because it contains a high concentration of flavonoids, an antioxidant which does all the good work.
There are some rules to follow, however. It has to be low in sugar, consumed in moderation and have at least 50 to 70 percent cocoa solids in the contents.
Certain processing methods such as high heat can reduce the effectiveness of the flavonoids.
Finding the right product will take a little detective work on your part.
Producers must use pure, high quality cocoa.
Good quality product will usually have about 30 percent sugar content.
Try to avoid contents such as vegetable fat and artificial flavors.
Sugar is used to mask the bitter flavor of the pure cocoa, so the closer you can get to the natural flavor of cocoa the better.
A cup of cocoa is much higher in antioxidants than a cup of tea or a glass of red wine.
Try using the unsweetened pure cocoa powder with warm milk and water. Add as little sugar as possible to get used to the taste of cocoa.
It seems that dark chocolate is where cheeses and red wines were about fifteen years ago in North America.
The selection, the quality, the value, the taste and the pleasure is just beginning to enter into the common consciousness.
It's poised to become the next gourmet food. No doubt companies will soon start to describe their processing methods and product testing procedures on their packaging.
They will do everything to assure consumers that they are purchasing the best tasting product with the highest health benefits possible.
That will be the day when you can eat like Katherine Hepburn did. Well, not quite, try for something closer to two squares a day, maybe after supper.
For a big cocoa hit, Green and Blacks, a UK company, produces an 85 per cent cocoa solids bar. If you're not sure you can take that much cocoa, the 70 per cent one is a great entry-level choice.
This pioneering organic company was bought by Cadbury and some of it’s products carry the Fair-Trade mark. The price for their bar is around a pound seventy which converts to about three dollars for a 100 gram bar.
President's Choice (Loblaws Inc.) sells a 300 gram bar of 'Extra Dark' chocolate with 72% cocoa solids and very low sugar content for just over $4, which is terrific value. You just need to be more disciplined so you don't over indulge (that's getting close to Kate's one pound!)
Isn’t it nice to know that something so delicious is actually good for you?
But remember, eat dark chocolate only if you are healthy and make sure to eat it in moderation.