Most of the trade shows that Joan and I attend are where we are in our own booth serving samples so that people can have an opportunity to try our great, artisan chocolate. This week I am attending the PMCA’s (Pennsylvania Manufacturing Confectioners’ Association) 63rd Annual Conference in Hershey, Pennsylvania. The conference is being held at the Hershey Lodge—just across the street from the factory famed as the home of American chocolate. Yes, this is the place that Milton Hershey planned, financed and built, so it is definitely a place befitting of hosting a conference on, what else, CHOCOLATE.
There is a great roster of speakers covering everything from the health benefits of cocoa to the basic, as well as break-through, chemistry in making chocolate. I tasted cocoa and chocolate in all the basic forms. I sampled raw cacao beans right out of the pod. I had bites of chocolate that included raw, under-fermented, over-fermented, heavy roast, light roast, and even chocolate where the beans had gotten moldy. Yuck! So much for my usual comment that chocolate is like sex… never bad, just some of it IS better than others.
I also tasted some really great chocolate. These perfect specimens were made from Criollo, Forastero, Trinitario and, my favorite, the raw, but delicious Porcelana. I’ve known for a long time what I like, but it was a great validation of the efforts of all the people who work for Choclatique that we have gotten it right with the species and treatment of the beans that we buy.
Some of the best news of the conference however, was delivered by several rather savvy doctors, including Dr. Amy Griel, Dr. Catherine Kwik-Uribe and Dr. Thomas Parady, who spoke on the health aspects of cocoa butter and fats, flavanols and cardiovascular health, and soluble fibers, respectively. So here are some of the “tasty” highlights of what I heard:
- There are alkaloids in chocolate, so you can replace your morning cup of coffee with a hot steaming cup of chocolate… Choclatique Drinking Chocolate, I hope.
- The Flavonoids (or Procyonis) found in chocolate are similar to what you find in healthful portions of wine, grapes, green tea and apples. I guess that means that a piece of chocolate a day keeps the doctor away!
The new studies (of 34,000 participants) proved that chocolate has the ability to solve or ease numerous heath issues:
- Stomach irritation
- Energy (lack of)
- Blood pressure related problem
In short, chocolate has more health benefits that even a glass of red wine.
Another study was done on the island of Kuna (off the coast of Panama) where the islanders do not suffer from any aging diseases—hyper-tension, high cholesterol, even baldness. These native Kunaians have a diet very rich in cocoa. Their culture teaches all to, “Use cocoa every day—from before you were born (pre-natal I suppose) until the day you die and you shall live a long and healthful life.” They eat about 900mg of cocoa a day, but the studies show that just a simple inclusion of 6.4g of good, low sugar-content chocolate per day will do the same job. That’s just two Q-91 wafers per day! I know that’s a shameless plug for our 91% high in cacao mass chocolate, but something has to pay the bills.
Actually, a diet rich in chocolate and nuts (almonds, walnuts and peanuts) is a positive addition to your diet. So remember what mom always used to say, “Everything in moderation.” These studies are evidence that a diet with a moderate amount of chocolate, nuts, fresh fruits and red wine, that is low in trans-fats and saturated-fats and a moderate exercise can reverse the negative effects of aging. Hey, don’t tell anyone, but you just discovered the chocolate fountain of youth.
Special note: Much of the chocolate research to date has been funded by chocolate companies like Nestle, Hershey’s and Mars. These triple-blind studies are always supervised by major universities whose results are independently published.