Chocolate, Anyone?

Have you heard about the benefits of dark chocolate?  Cacao beans, the wonderful little bean that chocolate comes from, are high in phytonutrients called flavonols, more specifically polyphenols.  Poly-what?  Simply, it has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.  Au naturale, too.  Foods with polyphenols tend to be dark like berries, dark leafy greens, grapes, tea, and cacao.  Think of some common things you take anti-inflammatories for.  I have tennis elbow.  No, I didn’t get it playing tennis.  I got it while flying out to L.A. to visit my BFF to help with her wedding and was carrying on a heavy bag containing favors for the wedding shower.  For some stupid reason, I decided it wouild be a good idea to lift the bag up to my shoulder with just my right arm.  I went through worry I fractured my elbow again (I did it in 7th grade), a cortisone shot, wearing a sling and doing everything left-handed that I could, to finally seeing a Naturopath and had accupuncture.  The accupuncture was very effective and with his guidance, I used aromatherapy in conjunction at home and work.  The aroma therapy helped, but I couldn’t always use it when I needed to and one day it hit me, glucosamine.  People take it for arthritis, so why not for tennis elbow?  I saw a marked improvement, but I could tell when I forgot to take it.  My elbow would remind me loud and clear.  I realized last week that I have been eating a lot of foods with polyphenols, including dark chocolate, and decided to do a trial run without the glucosamine.  I haven’t taken a dose since Friday morning.  I did all kinds of lifting and moving things around if you saw my blog on Saturday.  That alone would have had me in pain.  Nothing. Did more Sunday.  Nothing.  I love it!  One less thing I need to take because I’m eating the good stuff that our body wants and needs.

The dark chocolate you choose needs to be at least 70% cacao, free of saturated fats, and minimal sugar.  So that leaves out a lot of the popular chocolates we grew up with.  I’m partial to Snickers myself, but when my husband and I did the South Beach Diet, I got used to bittersweet chocolate.  Dr. Mark Hyman also suggest cacao nibs.  They are roasted, unprocessed and pieces of the bean separated from the husk.  I got some last week along with some whole cacao beans.  Both are a bit bitter, but that chocolate taste is there.  The beans and nibs are high in iron and magnesium.  They also contains OEA, a fat that helps you burn fat.  Is that incentive or what?

Oh and need I remind you?  Moderation. If I’m eating the dark chocolate, just a little piece the size of my thumb will do for me.  Sometimes I’ll have two.  If it’s the cacao nibs, about 1/2 teaspoon is enough for me.  And the whole bean…just one.

I meant to add this to my blog yesterday.  Leanne Ely of Saving Dinner posted it on Facebook yesterday.  To use it, you’ll have to get the milk out of the fridge to enter the code.  It was interesting to see the comments from her posting and friends posting it after I posted.  If I remember correctly, one woman in Michigan had a container of milk that came from California.  Others had milk that came from 2 hours away.

Sadly, I wasn’t able to play with this since I”m still dairy-free!