Happy Halloween!

This time of year marks the beginning of the beginning for overindulgence of sweets and other decadent meals and treats. The first holiday on deck for next week is Halloween.

As kids, we’d gorge ourselves on candy, get a stomach ache, and pass out with no real repercussions the next morning (Maybe you’ve seen this video already, as it went viral around this time two years ago, but for me, it never stops being hilarious.) As adults, we dress up and go to parties where sweet alcoholic punch is served from a cauldron and bowls of candy and treats line all the table tops. Our next mornings aren’t always so lucky.

In brainstorming for this blog, I considered writing about a way to have a healthy Halloween, but my husband cautioned me against it. He said, “No one likes the houses who hand out apples.”

He’s right. (although these treats are adorable and really creative!)

So instead of encouraging you to forgo the mini snickers to make DIY healthy treats (like this one, which I can’t wait to try!), in honor of Halloween, I wanted to talk about one of my favorite treats — CHOCOLATE!

I’m not talking about a Hershy’s Kiss or a Twix bar, I’m talking about REAL, DARK chocolate (no wax, no garbage, just the good stuff). I’m not going to use this space to talk about how the US has different rules for what you can and can’t put into chocolate than Europe does, but if you’re curious, you should look it up. You might be surprised and choose your chocolate more wisely going forward…

Facts about chocolate:

  1. It comes from the cacao bean, which comes from a plant that grows best within 20 degrees of the equator and looks like this (source):cacaoplant
  2. According to one study, chocolate eaters have a lower BMI than their non-chocolate-eating counterparts.

    waist-measure

    That being said, BMI isn’t the most important measurement for healthy weight. Click for details.

  3. Chocolate decreases stroke and increases heart health
  4. It is chalk-full of antioxidants, which help protect against cancer, aging skin, and cell oxidation, but that benefit ceases to exist if milk is added.
  5. Chocolate has been studied for its mood-boosting properties, as it can stimulate the production of dopamine and serotonin, but the results are inconclusive so far.
  6. Dark chocolate is considered a health food by nutrition experts, and is DELICIOUS! (ok, maybe that’s an opinion and not a fact)

Raw foodists would tell you that a good bit of the nutritional value of raw cacao gets lost once it’s made into a chocolate bar as we might see on our grocery store aisle, but that hasn’t been proven. While it does make sense to me that the heating element of making chocolate might cause some reduction in nutritional value, it doesn’t make a high quality dark chocolate bar (with 70%¬†cocoa or greater) an excellent addition to your diet. I like to keep a bar in my desk and have a square or two as part of my afternoon snack. It’s a sweet little boost to help wrap up the day.

This Halloween, treat yourself to a good dark chocolate bar like this one (my personal favorite — it’s soy-free, GMO-free, and fair trade). You won’t regret it!

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