Monday, April 28, 2008

Death by chocolate?

I had to laugh tonight when I heard a news report saying the researchers were seeking 150 women for an experiment: to eat chocolate each day for a year. Yep, I can see women racing up for that one.

The research is to find out if chocolate will reduce heart disease.

Five million adults in the UK suffer from cardiovascular disease. Studies show us that breastfeeding in infancy DRASTICALLY REDUCES the incidence of this in adulthood. As usual though, rather than promote something like that, our culture looks for a band aid.

But back to our ol’ friend chocolate. Many women I know seek comfort in chocolate. They pop the kids to bed at night and then look for their secret (or not so secret) stash and try to find the nurturing and nourishment they so desperately need. It’s symptomatic of the culture we live in ~ there’s no extended family or village to help us in our role of mothering and we’re left, not only holding the baby, supervising the other children and keeping house, but also running errands and meeting everyone else’s needs but our own. By the end of the day, most modern mothers are completely ‘spent’.

Personally, though I love the taste of a ‘good’ chocolate, my body isn’t keen on it. Chocolate keeps me awake all night ~ the caffeine in it affects me as strongly as coffee.

I thought that perhaps by moving to raw chocolate things might be different, but if anything, it was far worse. I had severe heart palpitations. It happened every time I had some. So, despite all the apparent health properties and claims about it being a superfood, chocolate is not a staple in my diet.

If you did hear the report about finding a link between chocolate and heart disease and think you might try eating it each day for a year, remember this ~ commercially produced chocolates contain sugar, fillers and an assortment of non-nutritive ingredients. There are, of course, ‘better’ brands on the market, like Booja Booja or Shazzie’s vegan raw chocolate, but for the most part, chocolate isn’t just chocolate.

In New Zealand there is a restaurant chain called Death by Chocolate. Clearly it’s meant to sound indulgent and fun, but perhaps there’s a certain amount of wisdom in it.

I can’t help but think that chocolate, like coffee, is perhaps meant for ceremonial purposes, or to ward off insects!, rather than to be taken as regularly as oxygen. Because, let's face it, chocolate on its own doesn't taste that fab without additives such as a sweetener, whether that be toxin-inducing white sugar, or virtuous agave syrup.

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