If there’s one thing that really steams my potatoes, it’s so-called “health experts” who warn me against eating chocolate. Next to my Jumpy Java coffee, chocolate is one of my essential food groups, the others being frozen yogurt; hamburgers grilled medium rare and slathered with onions; spinach calzones; and fresh, lightly sauteed broccoli. After all, I believe in a balanced diet.
There have been at least 47,000 studies proving that dark chocolate is almost as good for you as stair-climbing. Dark chocolate boosts levels of antioxidants, which in turn gobbles up free radicals. And if there’s one thing I hope everyone can all agree on these days, it’s that there are too many radicals running free. I say, lock ‘em all up, those no-goodniks! Finally, eating the minimum daily recommended amounts of dark chocolate protects us from getting too skinny, which is a public health issue. Have you ever hugged a really skinny person? You could get splinters.
Despite all this evidence, some people whom I have consulted in the alternative healing community claim that chocolate—the most delectable and desirable food in the Almighty’s firmament – damages my “chi,” whatever that is. I admit that these tree-hugging, tofu-marinating healers have often helped me. I’ve felt revitalized after drinking tea made from wild looking herbs that looked a groundskeeper’s haul after a day’s work at a national park, and I have felt better after being poked by acupuncture needles, so I’m not exactly unimaginative when it comes to the art of healing. But when these naturopaths and homeopaths opine heresies against chocolate, I must part company. Even if, God forbid, they are correct, I know the emotional benefits of savoring delicate chocolate morsels will more than compensate for any downgrading of my “chi.” Whatever that is. Besides, if chocolate wasn’t heaven-sent, why else would the first three letters of Godiva spell G-O-D?
February is naturally National Chocolate Lovers’ Month, and February 14 is most famous as Valentine’s Day—an emotionally riveting day for many women regardless of their relationship status. That is why I estimate that on February 14, women will consume approximately 700 billion calories in chocolates gifted to them by their “significant others.” Women who are not in romantic relationships will not be outdone or out-eaten, and will consume about 600 trillion calories in self-inflicted chocolate overdoses. Good thing that dark chocolate releases those feel-good endorphins. Women who OD’d on cream-filled chocolates the night before will need that emotional pick-me-up when they confront the muffin-top that sprouted overnight and that will require several weeks of serious stair-climbing to shave off.
However, there’s no need to wait till February to indulge and commemorate one’s chocomania. You can celebrate the divinely dark substance on National Chocolate-Covered Cherries Day (January 3), National Chocolate Chip Day (May 15) and National Chocolate Éclair Day on my birthday, June 22.
Some nationally recognized doctors, including Mehmet Oz, claim that the health-boosting flavanoids in dark chocolate are so powerful that you don’t need a whole bar to get safely tanked up. Dr. Oz says a piece as small as a Hershey’s Kiss can lower your blood pressure. But do you really want to take such chances when it comes to getting your antioxidants? Personally, I won’t risk it.
I’ve also read that chocolate should be fair trade, organic, and at least 70 percent cocoa, because people are always upping the ante when it comes to political correctness and cocoa-purity snobbery. I believe in fair trade chocolate, too: If I trade you my Godiva truffles, I better get something really good, like having someone cook dinner for my family and me for a week.
Meanwhile, the next time my Chinese herbalist tells me to avoid chocolate, I will wave around the copies of the European Heart Journal and the Journal of Cerebral Blood Flow and Metabolism, both of which have published data showing that chocolate can help prevent heart attacks and strokes. Maybe that will shut her up. Borrowing from the National Rifle Association’s most famous phrase, I’ll give you my chocolate when you can pry it from my cold, dead fingers.
Sharing delectable chocolate makes the world a calmer, happier place. Shouldn’t that be enough reason for anyone to indulge?
(This article is adapted from a piece that appeared on Aish.com.)