By Amy Medling, founder of PCOS Diva
Chances 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 PCOS Diva craves chocolate, a supermarket checkout candy bar just won’t do. A PCOS Diva doesn’t stuff a Snickers bar in her mouth while driving home from the grocery store and then hide 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.
Dancing Lion Chocolate is chocolate made for PCOS 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 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 bonbons with strawberry rhubarb and meyer lemon and 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.
Richard explained that, “Eating chocolate should be a mindful experience. Good chocolate is an experience. It should be something that is just beautiful.”
The trick to indulging in dark chocolate is to do it mindfully. Begin 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.
What to look for:
Every good chocolate should have 4 ingredients, cocoa, sugar, vanilla (not vanillin) and lecithin. Richard 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 Lake Champlain Chocolates.
Chocolate it isn’t only delicious, it is healthy too. Here are five benefits 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 that 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, Michigan. “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.
Amy Medling, best-selling author of Healing PCOS and certified health coach, specializes in working with women with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS), who are frustrated and have lost all hope when the only solution their doctors offer is to lose weight, take a pill, and live with their symptoms. In response, Amy founded PCOS Diva and developed a proven protocol of supplements, diet, and lifestyle programs that offer women tools to help gain control of their PCOS and regain their fertility, femininity, health, and happiness.
J Am Coll Cardiol. 2011 Oct 18;58(17):1828-9.