Great Article AND Delicious Recipe from Cindy Kreuger on Preservion.comChocolate Lovers Rejoice
Studies reporting the health benefits of chocolate are music to my ears. There is growing scientific evidence that antioxidant flavonoids in dark chocolate are the medicinal compounds that may reduce risk factors for heart disease and other chronic conditions when consumed in moderation; roughly one to two ounces per day.
Chocolate comes from beans of the cacao tree. The scientific name, Theobroma, comes from the Greek word for “food of the gods”, in my opinion appropriately named.
Not all chocolate is equal. The darkest chocolates, those that contain between 72-99% cocoa contain the highest flavonoid content. Flavonoid compounds belong to the antioxidant-rich polyphenol family, known as phytochemicals.; also found in fruits, vegetables, and plants.
These compounds prevent clumping of blood platelets that can cause blood clots. They also decrease chronic inflammation associated with cardiovascular disease.
A study conducted in Italy reported that those who ate dark chocolate regularly experienced an average of 17 percent reduction in C-reactive protein decreasing the risk of cardiovascular disease by one-third in women and one-fourth in men. Chocolate also contains arginine, an amino acid required in the production of nitric oxide which helps regulate blood flow, inflammation and blood pressure. This is great news!
The Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry reported that in terms of healthy antioxidant content, cocoa powder is followed by:
- Unsweetened baking chocolate
- Dark chocolate
- Semi-sweet chocolate chips
- Milk chocolate
Forget about white chocolate; flavonoids are removed by processing. Milk chocolate contains milk, and proteins in the milk bind with the antioxidants, making them more difficult to be absorbed. Dark chocolate is lower in sugar content than milk chocolate making it bitter and less palatable to many, but the health benefits are hard to beat.
Organic dark chocolate is the best but my favorite is any kind of chocolate from Belgium. Trader Joe’s carries a 72% dark chocolate that is delicious and makes recipes enviable. Whether eating it raw or using it for baking, dark chocolate is a delight. I started using Trader Joe’s 72% dark chocolate to make my Krueger Haystack’s (see recipe below). They are a hit everywhere. Try them and let me know what you think.
Consider enjoying a bit of this rich powerful delight daily and reap the benefits for a lifetime.
Krueger’s Homemade Haystacks
1 large bar (17.6 oz) Trader Joe’s Pound Plus 72% dark chocolate (Use your favorite dark chocolate as a substitute)
1-1/2 C pecans from Costco. They contain ONLY pecans.
1-1/2 C walnuts from Costco. They contain ONLY walnuts
1 to 2 C – 100% organic fine-shredded Coconut unsweetened (Let’s do Organic brand -a green and white bag)
Melt the chocolate. I use my heat lamps under the stove but you can use a double boiler or convection oven for a few minutes to melt the chocolate. Chop the nuts and add them to the melted chocolate along with the shredded coconut. You can add more nuts or shredded coconut depending how much you like them.
Use a tablespoon to make little stacks on a wax paper covered cookie sheet. Sprinkle a little extra coconut on the top while the chocolate is still warm. Refrigerate until they become hard (if you can wait that long)!!