Health by Chocolate - 5 Benefits of Chocolate for PCOS - PCOS Diva
Health by Chocolate – 5 Benefits of Chocolate for PCOS

health by chocolateChances are when you were diagnosed with PCOS, you were probably told to stay away from sweets. If you’re like me, you wondered if you would ever be able to legally indulge in something truly decadent and delicious again.

Well, I’m here to tell you that the answer is a resounding – YES!

The delicious, decadent something is actually one of the most delicious foods on the planet – dark chocolate.

I adore dark chocolate. And when I was invited to spend a morning with Master Chocolatier, Richard Tango-Lowy at his boutique chocolate shop Dancing Lion Chocolate in Manchester, New Hampshire, I felt like I had died and gone to heaven!

If you have been a follower of PCOS Diva for a while, then you’ve  probably heard me say that when a Diva craves chocolate, a supermarket checkout candy bar just won’t do.

A Diva would never stuff a Snickers bar in her mouth while driving home from the grocery store and then stuff the wrapper under the seat and pretend it didn’t happen.

Instead, she finds the most beautiful chocolate available and purchases a piece or two and takes the elegantly wrapped box home and mindfully savors it while listening to Mozart.

Dancing Lion Chocolate  is chocolate made for Divas. This is a place where chocolate is considered art.  I was greeted with a delicious bowl of steaming hot drinking Mayan dark chocolate from the Dominican Republic infused with Guajillo, chilis, Copanero chilis and Mexican softstick cinnamon in water.  Imagine, hot chocolate mixed with with just water – who needs to add milk when the chocolate is rich and delicious.

Just selecting the chocolate was an experience for your senses.  As each piece is laid out like a precious  jewel in an antique jewelery case. There were bon bons with strawberry rhubarb and meyer lemon. There were exotic chocolates from all around the world.  Richard selected a couple “pieces” for me to sample and then spent 20 minutes explaining how to taste chocolate – I mean really taste chocolate. A fine chocolate is full of complexity and nuance – second and even third tastes become present as it lingers on your tongue. I’m not sure if I caught the floral undertones and jammy raspberry finish but this mindful experience of eating chocolate was soothing to the mind, body and soul.

Richard went on to explain that ,

“Eating chocolate should be a mindful experience. Good chocolate is an experience. It should be something that is just beautiful.”

Mindfully tasting chocolate begins by smelling it.  What is the fragrance?  Then break it.  It should snap, as the better the snap the better the temper. Take a little nibble and taste the darkness.  Then place it in your mouth and chew and see how it flows.  The only fat that melts at body temperature is cocoa butter.  The more cocoa butter the better the flow.   Then enjoy the finish – the aftertaste that should linger with any good chocolate.

Richard explained that every good chocolate should have 4 ingredients, cocoa, sugar, vanilla (not vanillin) and lecithin. He explained that you can’t make the chocolate emulsion without lecithin.  Beware of chocolate with hydrogenated fat and high fructose corn syrup.  Many inferior chocolate manufacturers take out the cocoa butter and sell it to cosmetic companies and replace the fat with hydrogenated oils.  “When you take out cocoa butter you have nothing left.” he explained.

“When you are looking for dark chocolate the flavor peaks at between 60% -70% cocoa.  The darker you go you lose flavor.  It is easier to find a good 65% than a good 85%.”  I asked him to suggest some better supermarket brands for those of us who can’t visit a boutique chocolate shop when a cravings strikes.  He thought that Dagoba and Green and Black were acceptable. Please share your favorite chocolate brand in the comment section.  Mine is http://www.lakechamplainchocolates.com/

Chocolate it isn’t only delicious, it is healthy too.  Here are five benfits of chocolate-

1. People who regularly eat chocolate may have lower BMIs

In a study of more than 1,000 people, Dr. Beatrice Golomb and her colleagues at the University of California, San Diego found thatt people who consumed chocolate more days per week were thinner – and had a lower BMI – than those who ate chocolate less often. “Epicatechin from cocoa causes greater control over food urges and is more satisfying than other treats,” said Dr. Peter McCullough, a cardiologist at St. John Providence Health in Warren, Mich. “Higher cocoa chocolate is relatively low in sugar and the fatty acid in chocolate products is probably not as worrisome as other fats. On the whole, a little superior quality chocolate is good to add to the diet of those trying to lose weight.”

2. Chocolate may increase insulin sensitivity

A small Italian study from 2005 found that regularly eating chocolate increases insulin increases insulin sensitivity, thereby reducing risk for diabetes. Study participants ate dark chocolate once a day for 15 days and saw their potential for insulin resistance drop by nearly half. “Flavonoids increase nitric oxide production,” says study researcher Claudio Ferri, M.D., a professor at the University of L’Aquila in Italy. “And that helps control insulin sensitivity.”

3. Chocolate reduces stress

In a recent study people who rated themselves highly stressed to begin with had lower levels of stress hormones after eating chocolate every day for two weeks. The study’s subjects ate 1.4 ounces (40 g) of dark chocolate daily.

4. Chocolate is good for your heart

A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition shows that adding only half an ounce of dark chocolate to an average American diet is enough to increase total antioxidant capacity 4 percent, and lessen oxidation of LDL cholesterol. In a 9-year Swedish study of more than 33,000 women, those who ate one or two servings of dark chocolate each week cut their risk for stroke by as much as a third.

5. Chocolate increases serotonin

Produced by your brain, serotonin is the “feel good” hormone. When your brain produces enough of it, serotonin can help you feel calm, confident and happy.  I have seen it implied that women with PCOS may lack adequate seretonin. Chocolate contains tryptophan, a chemical in the brain that is used to produce the neurotransmitter, serotonin.

1. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22450943

2. http://www.ajcn.org/content/81/3/611.abstract

3. http://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/pr900607v

4. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17344491

J Am Coll Cardiol. 2011 Oct 18;58(17):1828-9.

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  • Davina

    I love chocolate, but tend to stay away from it since being diagnosed with pcos, and endometriosis, not because of sugar concerns, but because of the lecithin. Specifically soy lecithin. The only soy I will eat is the naturally fermented kind.

    Did the Chocolatier say it has to be soy? or can chocolate be made with sunflower lecithin instead? I know the enjoy life brand of chocolate chips is soy free, so I’m assuming the soy can be substituted for something else.

    Do the gourmet brands use soy lecithin, or something else?

    I really, really, really miss chocolate 🙁

    • Amy

      Davina- That was one of my questions for him. He said that it really has to be soy lecithin. But if you buy organic then the soy will be organic and non- GMO and he said that you only use a minuscule amount to create the emulsion.

      • Davina

        Thanks for the info Amy, its good to know only a little a is used. I suppose if its for a treat, once in a while doesn’t hurt 🙂

    • Davina,

      Most really good American chocolate makers explicitly omit lecithin from their chocolate, as they can’t easily ensure it’s non-GMO. None of our custom blends at Dancing Lion Chocolate contain lecithin, and I even have a few extraordinary raw chocolates these days. Stop in and check us out!

      Kind regards,

      Rich Tango-Lowy
      Dancing Lion Chocolate

  • A post on chocolate? Thank you!

    Living in Wichita, KS makes me a very lucky girl because I have Cocoa Dolce Artisan Chocolates available to provide me with a gourmet fix of the good stuff to savor.

  • Annie Christie

    Hi

    I make “fudge” with a jar of ‘raw’ almond butter, cocoa powder, stevia and a heaping tablespoon of coconut oil. Sometimes I add gogi berries or coconut flakes. Whip in a food processor or stir by hand if you’re strong. Keep it in the fridge. It’s a bit soft so I eat it with a teaspoon. It’s really a satisfying and very low glycemic way to enjoy chocolate.

    Appreciate all your good info.
    Thanks,
    Annie

    • Amy

      Annie -Sounds delish – switch the cocoa powder to cacao powder for extra nutrition!

      • Annie Christie

        Actually, I just looked at the bag and that’s what I’m using. Organic, from Nativas Naturals.

        • Laura

          Annie,

          Would you be willing to share your exact recipe for “fudge,” including all the brand names (I’m still learning new recipes and brands good for pcos cooking). It sounds delicious!!

          Thanks in advance,
          Laura

          • Annie Christie

            Hi Laura,
            One 16 oz jar of RAW almond butter. I usually use Artsana, which is organic. (I really prefer Maranantha, as it’s creamier, but usually too expensive.)
            I would guess a half teaspoon of undiluted white stevia powder. But start with a little less and taste it after adding chocolate and before final mixing. It’s very sweet and becomes bitter if you overdo it.(But I use it for everything sweet)
            Same with the cacao powder.(as I mentioned, I use Nativas Naturals, but not required. It’s costly but it also last a very long time) Try a rounded Tablespoon and taste it. Probably will want two tablespoons.. maybe more? Let the taste stay with you a minute before you decide.
            One heaping Tbs of coconut oil. NOW or Nativas Natural brand.
            If you poor off the separated oil from the nut butter, it will make a thicker “fudge”, which I prefer, but I quit doing so as I didn’t have another use for it. It just effects the texture not the taste.
            You could add a pinch of salt…or not.
            I find it easiest to blend in the food processor and especially easier to add more of the sweetener or chocolate after the initial mixing. I buy all ingredients, on line, from iHerb.com You could compare other sources. There’s lots and they are a big savings over health food stores. A few regular grocery stores carry some of these items, depending on where you live. If I’m unclear about anything just ask.
            You’re welcome 🙂
            Annie

  • Yummy post Amy! I just came across this post highlighting the benefits of dark chocolate for reducing cardiovascular events: http://www.medpagetoday.com/Cardiology/Prevention/33010?fb_ref=.T8kIzeV-uik.like&fb_source=home_multiline

    I love Lake Champlain too 🙂

    • Amy

      Thanks for pointing me to this post Angela!

  • niki

    Annie- Thanks for the recipe. I too am new to this whole “pcos” eating. But I will defiantly be trying this 🙂

  • Deb Shaw

    Over low heat, melt a half-cup of organic, unrefined coconut oil, a tablespoon of organic beeswax, and a dab of butter. Mix in a quarter cup of honey, a tablespoon of molasses, and a tablespoon of organic ground cinnamon, then mix in organic cacao powder until you have the desired texture for a sauce, a dip, or for pouring to make candy. If you wish to make candy, line a baking dish with buttered wax paper, pour the chocolate mixture into the pan, spread it out, and allow to cool. Break into pieces to serve. If you wish milk chocolate, mix heavy cream into the chocolate mixture before use.

    • Amy

      Sounds really yummy Deb. Thanks for sharing your recipe!

  • I quite agree. The post is pretty yammy. Annie, the recipe is fairly amazing!
    I have developed a dark chocolate chip cookie bar, I substitute flour with almond meal, and butter with cocoa butter. I do use some brown sugar but not much…

  • Amanda

    And I thought I had lost my favorite thing in the world! Norman Love Chocolatier is not far from where I live and I HATED to give up my every-now-and-then indulgence. I’m glad to know it’s okay!

  • Kim

    I am worried about consuming sugar and it causing more sugar cravings. Do you think table sugar should be avoided completely or is a little bit in chocolate or cured bacon acceptable? My blood sugar levels have been normal every time I’ve had them tested, but I was just diagnosed with PCOS and Diabetes runs in the family.

    • Amy

      Kim I have tried to completely cut out sugar in the past and was able to do so for a while but I would cave in and then it would lead to binging. I think you have to do what is right for you. I like the 80/20 rule. If I avoid sugar 80% of the time the other 20% if eaten in a balanced way – avoiding HFCS works for me.

  • Great post! I have been treating myself to dark chocolate (dairy free) macadamia nut clusters, which are amazing and I’m glad to find that they are actually doing me more good than harm! A question for you Amy, have you ever done any research into coffee’s (my other favorite treat) benefits or drawbacks to PCOS? I have heard about the antioxidant content of coffee, as well as that it can help prevent type 2 diabetes, but don’t know how it affects someone with PCOS or insulin resistance.

    • Amy

      Adri-Anne great question. I’ll answer it in this month’s Newsletter.

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