Chocolate as a Health Food

No, it’s not a joke. Newspapers (like Businessweek) ┬áhave articles today where they refer to a review of existing research that suggests that chocolate may lower your risk of stroke.

Of the three studies reviewed, one found no significant association between chocolate consumption and risk of stroke. But another found that

the stroke rate was 22 percent lower in people who ate chocolate once a week

and a third reported that

death from stroke was 46 percent lower in those who ate 50 grams of chocolate once a week.

They speculate that the health benefits may come from antioxidants called flavonoids that are present in chocolate. Antioxidants are thought to prevent cell damage.

Of course, the article then goes on to give the standard warnings.

“Caution should be taken not to promote chocolate as a health food even though it is fine in moderation.”

“Chocolate is a major source of saturated fat, which raises bad cholesterol and boosts heart disease risk”

Oh well, what can you expect?

They also point out that only dark chocolate would be beneficial even though it’s not clear if this statement comes from the studies or not.

Unrelated to the reviewed studies, there are apparently other studies that indicate that

even a little chocolate can help reduce blood pressure and increase blood flow through the arteries

That sounds like good news to me. I hope we get to hear more from these “other” not referenced studies.

So, how to incorporate chocolate into a lowcarb diet? A couple of squares of dark chocolate like Lindt’s 70% bar that have 6 g carbs do not derail my diet despite containing a small amount of sugar.

An even better idea is to use cocoa nibs; crushed cacao beans. A friend of mine (2big4mysize – don’t let the name fool you; she has been at goal weight for many years now) gave me the tip to brew “tea” from them.

She puts them in cold water in a percolator. Runs it twice as the first time will just give a tea-colored liquid but the second time will result in a nice, chocolate colored drink. She can then keep on adding more water to the pot to stretch the nibs even further.

I don’t have a percolator but I intend to try this with just heating the water with the nibs; possibly more than once. I just need to buy the nibs first.

The nutrition facts for 1 ounce of cacao nibs are: 130 calories (110 from fat), 12 g fat, 10 g carbohydrate (9 fiber), 4 g protein.

This chocolate tea must be very similar to what the Aztecs drank. At least the descriptions I have read suggest that it would have been prepared in a similar way. I also don’t recall any mention of them sweetening the drink.

Raw Cocoa Nibs

(Photo from BuyWellness which is one place that sells raw Cocoa Nibs.)

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Back when I was VLC, I tried grinding the cacao in a coffee grinder into a fine powder. I mixed that into water as an experiment. Ick. Extremely bitter.

I liked them sprinkled on berries as the bitter made a great contrast with the sweet of the berries.


Thank you Marisol!!
I am very fortunate that I can buy Lindt 99% chocolate here. it’s very bitter and I take only one square at a time = 2.5 grams, not even a tenth of an ounce. It works well for me, and taking it only now and then when I feel I need it, it does not interfere with my ZC diet. Of course this is not chocolate as we all know it, the wrap even has a warning and instructions how you should eat it – very slowly, just savouring it.

Joe, I can believe you. I have tasted baking cacao powder off the spoon and it wasn’t a pleasant experience. I’m eager to try 2Big’s method and hope I can find some nibs today. Perhaps the “tea” will require the addition of Stevia. I will have to see.

Willeke, I can get 99% here as well but I haven’t tried it. 90% is as high as I have gone and while bitter, I like it. But, yes, no risk of overeating it.
I limit carbs but personally I don’t see them as poison so the more available 73% works for me.

However, I should have warned my readers that just because the label says “dark chocolate” doesn’t mean it’s low in carbs. Some brands add so much sugar to their dark chocolate that the carbs are higher than for regular.

I used to make it with the already ground stuff but the wholes in my perkolator were too large and it would fall through making a very gritty drink.

If you have a french press you could use already ground cocoa powder and avoid the grit.

Marisol I add hot peppers to mine and don’t use any sweetener. You could add 1-2 tablespoons of cream and make a hot chocolate like drink with less carbs and cals.

LOL! I am sitting here watching Modern Marvel on chocolate. Some guy is saying the health benefits of chocolate are the antioxidants, specifically, the flavinoids. But too much is not good due to the number of calories. Oh well.

This is pretty intrigueing.

Willeke, you said “when you need it”. What do you mean? Do you mean you get like a craving for it? Or that you feel some sort of feeling/symptom/whatever and you know that eating it will improve how you feel? Or does it bring you pleasure? I’m just curious since I imagine it doesn’t taste very good and it isn’t sweet, so it doesn’t seem like you’d crave it like you might the sweeter stuff. I hope it doesn’t sound like I’m grilling you. I’d just like to hear more about your experience with it. :)

The nutrition facts for 1 ounce of cacao nibs are: 130 calories (110 from fat), 12 g fat, 10 g carbohydrate (9 fiber), 4 g protein.

So you use the nibs to make a tea-like substance, as you described. Used in that way, do you ever eat the actual nibs? If not, I wonder what nutrients you’re actually consuming by just drinking the tea. I’m not asking about the flavinoids or other compounds, but stuff like the carbohydrates. If you are a person who counts stuff, how many calories or fat or carbs do you think actually get consumed this way? See what I mean?

I’d like to get the benefits of this, but wonder what the tea tastes like. I suppose it’s something you grow accustomed to? 2big, your addition of hot peppers sounds interesting! I might like that!

I sort of know what I need, same with supplements, sometimes I suddenly will take extra vit C just one or 2 days and that’s enough. Same with the Lindt 99%. I had one piece of 2 grams (an ounce is 28 grams) last week and after that I haven’t needed it anymore. It’s not craving, for then a quarter of a square inch would not be enough . It is a bitter taste, so bad that I know only one place where I can buy it.
Same with food. I eat a lot of lean jerkey but two or three times a day I know I need fat and then I have a piece of pemmican.
So I can see the Lindt stuff in the fridge a hundred times, and not even notice it, and sometimes I go to the fridge with the specific purpose to get some Lindt 99% (won’t use the ch-word anymore )
I do like the taste, though, but as said before, it doesn’t call me from the fridge, I totally forget it’s here until I need it.
Let me know if this does not answer your question!

That’s pretty cool, Willeke! Thanks for answering my questions. With all the drama in the other post’s comments, I was afraid you’d interpret my questions wrong. :)

Carbs are water soluble so I’d guess that the digestible carbs are dissolved if I brew the nibs till they no longer change the water color. The fact that the 3rd and 4th pot tastes just as chocolately as the 2nd says that not all the carbs gets disloved from the nibs in a rapid manner.

You can add a little cream and whatever sweetner you use and swear you are having hot chocolate.

If you want to eat the nibs you can still after the 3rd brewing get a chocolate taste from them.

I mix the chocolate water with Mother’s decafe coffee to make her a choclate coffee drink like the one at burgerking and pour it over ice and add a like whole milk for her.

milk and sweetner were not added to hot chocolate until the Spainards took it back to Europe. The Myans and otehr folk drank it like black coffee.

2Big, yes, I figured the carb count for the “tea” would be a lot less but even considering the “worst” scenario, this is still a LC food.
I liked your idea with hot pepper. I use cayenne pepper on most food so why not with cacao?
I still haven’t bought any nibs. I should just have ordered them on the internet and they would have arrived by now!

I really don’t intend to drag over the ZIOH drama to this post but I can not resist posting this quote by CW (from Jimmy’s board in June 2008):

“Even I enjoy some sweet every now and a long then. I used to have cheese cake after a half-marathon from time to time, but cheese and I have parted ways. On Father’s Day, I actually had some Mousse and didn’t gain any weight that week. Therefore, I had my wife buy some of the homemade ingredients to make it at home.

She went to Whole Foods and got some Heavy Cream that was just heavy cream. Sometimes in the store they have heavy cream that has dextrose and other undesireables in it, so you have to make sure you get farm fresh or some good stuff from the specialty store.

I got some 85% Cacao unsweetened chocolate (0 grams of sugar) and used only a tablespoon (maybe less) of sugar. It was more than sweet enough for me and again, I didn’t gain weight.

I don’t know how often she’ll make this mousse but at least if I have to have something, that might be an option. I also found that I could have 70% Cacao chocolate by Lindt. It has 5g per serving but the taste is so intense, I can’t eat a serving. One serving is 4 pieces and I can take 1 piece and I’m more than good. It has 10 grams of saturated fat per serving and that may be why I responded so well to it.

My point is, I define zero carb as what you do the majority of the time. I go weeks with just meat and water and then every now and then I’ll try something like a desert, or saucy meat or whatever. The very next meal I get back to work. Nothing is ever an all-or-nothing proposition.”

That is just priceless, mariasol!

I remembered that post and refereneced the onfo in it when I told them he was having his wife make dessert and was not doing his groundbeef fat and water for 2 yrs even. I just couldn’t link it to JMs cause they are all gone

2Big, I remember you referring to it but I’m not sure I actually read the post before. The thread at Jimmy’s is long gone but nothing posted on the internet is really fully deleted.

The trick is to really observe your body, and not just the day after you eat something new, but at least during a week. That way you can recognize any new cravings for what they are and then you know if for YOU, in THAT stage this particular food is no good.
For example, I could eat a lot of cheese and cream, and even peanuts, when I first did Atkins in the seventies and still lose weight like crazy.
But in 2008, after a two months’ vacation where I had cream in my coffee every day and cheese in the weekends, I had gained 5 kilos = 11 lbs. I had not realized how insidious dairy works in me – and it set me up for huge cravings. Never again! I have now learnt my lesson and will never again forget to really listen to my body .

” will never again forget to really listen to my body ” ~ Willeke

This is priceless. I wish everyone would have such an attitude towards food!! It really isn’t difficult to listen to your own body, or more accurately, to observe your body’s reaction to a certain type of food. I don’t like this “all carbs are evil” attitude at all. FOR MY BODY, I cannot eat a lot of carbs. In fact, the highest I can go is VVLC (carbs coming from nutrient dense low GL food) or else I become ill.

Last night I went out for dinner and ordered a piece of linefish with garlic butter. All fine for my body. But then everyone ordered starters and I was hungry and could not wait for them to finish their starters first. I ordered a salad. Simple. Lettuce, tomato, onion, cucumber, olives, feta cheese, green peppers. I went for the feta cheese and olives first. This morning I have blocked sinuses. No surprise, because I know I cannot eat dairy. BUT, I also ate a few slices of tomato, and this seemingly innocent food created havoc in my body. I was starving when I woke up this morning. Constipated and bloated. I could not get to the fridge any faster to grab some eggs. If I had carby foods in my house (I don’t) I might have grabbed that!

None of the other foods I ate ever caused this reaction, and I eat them often. So FOR MY BODY, tomatoes are out! But that doesn’t necessarily mean no-one should eat them, or that I think myself superior because I don’t eat them (except for last night). I love tomatoes! But body says no :(

LOL at CW’s post re the mousse. Analyze this sentence: ” I had my wife buy some of the homemade ingredients to make it at home.” Buy HOMEMADE ingredients TO MAKE AT HOME?? LOL!! And then he had the nerve to have a go at Willeke for occasionally eating a tiny amount of Lindt 99%!! I’ve often said on here that CW is plain lying about his food, and that I’m almost 100% sure he’s got a stack of supplements sitting next to his tallow (oops, butter has replaced the tallow, almost forgot!) on his kitchen counter!

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