Chocolate for All Seasons

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Most of us would agree that February is the real National Chocolate Lovers Month, but did you know that chocolate lovers have united and declared all twelve months as chocolate celebrating months? I love it!

Just this month chocolate lovers celebrated National Chocolate Caramel Day (March 19) and National Chocolate-Covered Raisin Day (March 24). In April chocolate lovers have Chocolate-Covered Cashews day and Easter (April 21) to enjoy to their heart’s content.

When I attended the Chocolate Exhibit at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science I learned a number of new facts about this “food of the gods”. Chocolate has quite a history. Chocolate is as much a hot topic today as it was in its discovery days. Media outlets lost no time in promoting this delicacy, especially to children. Science is making exciting discoveries on the health benefits of chocolate, which those early purveyors and connoisseurs learned without our modern-day technology.

Let’s look at a few of the health benefits of chocolate:

• Cacao provides over 300 beneficial compounds for a healthy body and mind (brain receptors)

• Chocolate releases endorphins (neurotransmitters) in the brain that bring about a feeling of calm bliss

• Tryptophan, an amino acid, and the precursor to serotonin (neurotransmitter) is abundant in chocolate, providing anti-anxiety or anti-depressant effect

• Heart-healthy flavonoids provide cardiovascular benefits

Keep in mind that the dark cacao (70%+) offers more of these health benefits. Since the cacao bean is highly bitter, sweeteners must be added for the flavor we know and love––so, indulge wisely (moderate consumption) to minimize the additional sugars in your diet. I encourage you to reduce if not eliminate any milk chocolates, as they are much higher in sugars.

We’re just weeks away from Chocolate Bunny Season, so I hope this helps you choose wisely, and healthfully! Savor the Season.