Choose Your Chocolate Wisely


Over the last 10 years there has been much research done exploring the benefits of chocolate. It turns out that small amounts of dark chocolate or cocoa daily really does have a place in a healthy diet! Much of that research has been on the cardiovascular system. The compounds responsible for these benefits are the polyphenols, in those plants that give us colors and plant protection against pests, infection and UV damage.

Chocolate is from the beans of the Cacao tree, the seeds inside the cocoa pods that grow in Africa, South America and Indonesia. The beans are fermented to create the chocolate taste and dried into solids to sell as chocolate.

When we eat foods that contain polyphenols, they act as anti-oxidants, protecting your proteins, fats and DNA from oxidative damage. Oxidative stress plays a role in aging and studies show it increases degenerative diseases. Several studies show that chocolate consumption increases HDL cholesterol, the “good” type. Also the polyphenols protect the endothelial lining, the layer of cells that line the blood vessels, from free radical damage and helps control inflammation.

Researchers from Harvard Medical School were the first to observe that high blood pressure is unheard of in the Kuna Indians from Panama. There, cacao trees grow wild and they use the fruit as a staple in their diet daily. They eat so much cocoa they have the highest intake of the compound, flavanols, in the world. How? The typical Kuna  drinks 5 cups of cocoa beverage a day and that does not count the cocoa they add to their food!

Cocoa has been found to help with blood pressure with the compound, epicatechin, which improves nitric oxide. Nitric oxide helps promote relaxation of the blood vessels which keeps the blood flowing. Some of these cocao compounds help modulate inflammation, the start of all disease! It may even improve the skin contrary to the old believe that it causes acne! A benefit, unsuspected before, is the new possibility it may improve memory and protect brain neurons from damage.

The bad news is that many chocolate products on the market are loaded with sugar, milk and fat. Even worse are the artificial flavors, trans fat oils and other additives to extend shelf live. After you add all of these products to the chocolate you are left with little actual percentage of cocoa; so your benefits are diminished!

To really reap the benefits you should choose dark chocolate or at least a bar with a higher percentage of cocoa which means less sugar and fat. Studies show you can eat up to 41 grams of dark chocolate a day and not gain weight. Try looking for 60-70% cacao on the labels of your chocolate bars!

Or if that does not appeal put a little powdered cocao or raw cacao in your smoothie or add to oatmeal or yogurt. Try this recipe below.

Chocolate Vinaigrette

This dressing is good on salads or with roasted beets and winter squash.

3 tbs. balsamic vinegar, 4 tbs. olive oil, 1tsp Dijon mustard, 1-3tsps. raw cocao powder and pinch of sea salt. Whisk together and place in jar, it will not last long!

References: by Judith Fertig

Healing Spices by Bharat B. Aggarwal

Cindy Burrows
Cynthia Burrows, M.T. CWC, Herbalist

Cynthia Burrows, from Austin, Texas, owns Cindy Burrows, Natural Health Consultant; assisting individuals with health issues they would like to change. She will set up a program giving choices of foods, herbs, teas and homeopathic suggestions. Cindy is past owner of Nature’s Healing Herbs, an Herbal, Green Tea, and Tincture product line, and a rare product line of Green Tea Foods. She has certificates for Herbalist at East West School of Herbology, and as Wellness Consultant with the Wellness Forum in Ohio.

Cindy is also a Medical Technologist, with a B.S. degree from Mansfield University in Mansfield Pa., she has been in healthcare for over 30 years. In 2005, she started using a new device founded in Europe, Quantum Biofeedback, “an energy rebalancing of the body”, by using our bodies electricity or frequency waves it can detect stress points in the body, she has added this to her consulting practice. She now has her Certification as a Biofeedback Specialist. She helps her clients by working with the synergy of herbs, food, homeopathy, and aromatherapy within her practice. She is a speaker, writer, and teacher. Cindy has been interviewed on TV; about the benefits of Green Tea and has been on radio about her small business tour to Ecuador.

Cindy has been an herbalist for over 20 years and has spent 6 years learning through the East West School of Herbology with Michael Tierra. She has studied Western, Chinese and Ayurvedic Herbs with a strong emphasis on nutrition. Along with many other continued studies of alternative and complementary medicine. She is a Certified Wellness Consultant, through a special program, The Wellness Forum, which has its nutrition program, now part of the curriculum at Ohio State University, providing educational seminars and workshops designed to impart relevant nutrition information to individuals to take control of their own health. These programs give healthier options and choices that can impact your longevity and quality of life. Cindy has been a speaker to many groups and has conducted many of her own classes on food and healthy life style programs.

Cindy has been involved with a hands-on healing program for the past 4 years and offers energy healing, through donation only, to anyone who needs her services.

She is Co-president of the Austin Herb Society and a member of the American Herbalist Guild. Cynthia has been a board member on many programs in the past including; La Sertoma, Arthritis Foundation, Toastmasters International, National Association of Female Executives, Handicapped Equestrian Learning Program, Entrepreneurs Association, and Austin Integrated Health Care Program.

Cindy also loves nature, animals, reading, blending teas, juices, etc.; likes to hike, and work with plants and, of course, cooking., mostly vegetarian.
Cindy has an adventurous streak.
She has organized and taken tours with business and artists groups to Big Bend, Texas, New Mexico, USA, and Ecuador, South America.