ST. GEORGE – About 25 people attended a “Chocoholics Anonymous” workshop held at Hale Chiropractic Wednesday night where they were greeted with plates of chocolate labeled only with numbers, a tantalizing and slightly mysterious taste test for the palate and the brain.
One of the monthly clinics held at the chiropractic office, “Chocoholics Anonymous” was more than just a chocolate lover’s dream but rather an informational seminar presented by Dr. James R. Hale that detailed the health benefits of chocolate and explored the science of why it makes people happy.
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But the seminar wasn’t all good news for friends of the cocoa bean – choice in chocolate and moderation were key talking points and Hale cautioned that while some types of chocolate are healthy, other kinds can be quite detrimental to your health and well-being.
But first the good news
“We are here to talk about one of the greatest foods on the planet,” Hale said of chocolate in a power point presentation to the group.
The scientific and physiological benefits of chocolate were laid out to attendees in the presentation and included:
- Lowering risk of stroke
- Lowering blood pressure
- Lowering bad cholesterol
- Containing anti-inflammatory properties
- Containing anti-aging properties
According to information presented, healthy chocolate can also protect from Ultra Violet ray damage, is high in fiber and antioxidants and encourages the brain to produce endorphins which, according to MedicineNet.com’s Web page, “lead to feelings of euphoria.”
But now the bad news
Though chocolate, or chocolate’s main component, the cocoa or cacao bean, is quite healthy, the addition of sugars and other chemicals found in commercial candy bars such as Snickers can be quite detrimental to your health and, Hale said, can leave you feeling crummy.
So how can you eat your chocolate and enjoy all the benefits too?
Hale said it comes down to choice. Choose the proper chocolate and exercise a smart dose of moderation, he said.
“Make (chocolate) part of a balanced diet complete with fresh, natural foods and all in moderation,” Hale said.
Hale outlined things to look for and things to avoid when making chocolate selections and decisions:
- Look for chocolate with 70 percent cocoa or higher
- Choose chocolate that is 100 percent organic
- Avoid chocolate made with alkali; genetically modified organisms, or GMOs; or artificial sweeteners
- Avoid eating chocolate before bed
The taste test
Five different chocolate bars were purchased and given a number for those attending the “Chocoholics Annonymous” workshop. Tasters were asked to try the samples and rate them based on preference. All the chocolate bars were 68 percent cocoa or higher and some contained added ingredients such as dried fruits and nuts.
Hale’s office manager, Torie Williamson, purchased many of the chocolates from Natural Grocers in Washington, where, she said, there was a good selection of high quality and unique chocolate.
Williamson said that the taste test was very successful and showed people that they can enjoy dark chocolate.
Though tastes in the audience varied, most preferred the chocolates that contained fruits or nuts and few people chose the darkest chocolate that contained 85 percent cocoa.
An additional chocolate, a dark chocolate orange bar, was handed out after the tasting and would have been the runaway winner had it been included in the sampling. It is interesting to note that the dark chocolate orange bar contained the highest amount of sugar and the least amount of cocoa at only 55 percent, making it an OK, but not the best choice, Hale said.
Hale Chiropractic holds monthly workshops that are free to the public and discuss a variety of health topics. In March, Hale said, they will be discussing healthy juice and smoothies and the clinic will include a sampling as well as recipes for attendees.
To learn more about the free clinics visit Hale Chiropractic on their Facebook page.
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