Chocolate for longevity. I know, right? We’ve heard it before, and we always suspect that it’s someone’s guilty conscience — not medical expertise — inspiring them to promote the health benefits of our favorite treat.
But I came across something this week that spurred me to revisit the chocolate health benefits debate.
Never mind eating pure dark chocolate or drinking chocolate milk after a workout; straight up candy bars might be good for us too.
Here’s the story:
There’s a chocolate factory in Boise called the Idaho Candy Company where they’ve been making chocolate in an old brick building downtown since 1909. I was writing a magazine article on the history of the place when I learned about one of its earliest employees, Violet Brewer.
Violet began working at the factory in 1913 at just 13 years old. Over the years, she worked as hand chocolate dipper, weigher, and other posts, and ultimately retired in 1995.
82 years later.
At age 95.
Violet ate chocolate for 82 years straight and lived to be 101 years old. The concept of chocolate’s health benefits doesn’t seem so far-fetched now, hmm? I also chatted with the owner of Idaho Candy Company, Dave Wagers, who seemed suspiciously full of life (though it could’ve just been a sugar high).
So is there some mysterious ingredient unique to the Idaho Spud? Or could Violet Brewer be testimony to ALL chocolate’s longevity-promoting properties? Here’s some research behind the idea.
An article from Chocolate Space dishes on heart-healthy antioxidants found in the cocoa bean, specifically dark chocolate. And antioxidants, as we know, are a key player in longevity.
Important note: Violet’s Idaho Spud is made with dark chocolate. I think we’re onto something…
But Chocolate Space sells chocolate, so they might not be the most reliable source.
Ah, here we go: The New York Times. They found a study that shows chocolate eaters experiencing fewer cases of heart failure; perhaps by lowering blood sugar, or maybe because flavonoids in cocoa reduce inflammation.
The crux? They say ultimate health benefits come with eating chocolate in moderation.
Do you think Violet went light on the chocolate during her 82-year candy bar-making career? Ha.
Everyday Health’s longevity blog has some convincing information. Its author, Terry Grossman, MD, repeats that it is dark chocolate which delivers the most benefits, and he zeros in on two ingredients in chocolate: stearic acid and bioflavonoids. The first, stearic acid, has been shown to reduce the risk of blood clots. The second, bioflavonoids, are the antioxidant. Dark chocolate contains even more bioflavonoids than green tea and red wine, he says.
Now, I don’t know about you, but I don’t jump on the first tasty “findings” I come across. These are some pretty compelling case studies, but a chocolate fountain of youth? It’s just a little too good to be true — or at least, to be accepted at face value.
That’s why I’ve decided to conduct a 4-Hour Body-style experiment and investigate chocolate’s health benefits myself.
Would anyone care to join me?
The research starts here: Dark Chocolate-Dipped Strawberry Recipe
More news: Cheating on your diet once a week with chocolate may kickfire your starvation hormone leptin (the one responsible for your metabolism and hunger). For more info, read Cheat Your Way Thin.