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10 Reasons to Love ChocolateWho needs a reason? Everyone loves chocolate. But just in case you need some scientific reasons to impress your friends, here you go:
10. Chocolate makes us feel good. It contains tryptophan, a chemical in the brain that is used to produce the neurotransmitter, serotonin. High levels of serotonin stimulate the secretion of endorphins, and produce feelings of elation. Throw out the meds--eat a Rocky Mountain Chocolate bar!
9. Is it love? Or is it chocolate? High levels of this neurotransmitter help promote feelings of attraction, excitement, and giddiness. Phenylethylamine works by stimulating the brain's pleasure centers and simulates the feeling of being in love. Who needs a guy when all you need is a box of chocolates?
8. Have a heart. Eat chocolate! Chocolate might help fight heart disease. Chocolate contains chemicals called flavinoids, which thin the blood, helping to prevent clotting. All these wonderful pleasurable feelings, and good for your heart too? This just gets better and better!
7. Chocolate is structurally sound. The World's Tallest Chocolate Structure was unveiled in October 2006 at NYC's FAO Schwarz. It was over 20 feet tall, and made of 2,285 pounds of chocolate. Try doing that with a potato chip, you salty-snack fans!
6. Our blood needs chocolate! Chocolate cravings may indicate mild anemia. Call it an early warning system, especially for pregnant women. Chocolate contains iron, and this may be the pregnant body's way of signaling that iron levels are low. So eat that chocolate bar! It's for the good of the baby.
5. Chocolate may be a cure for PMS. Chocolate contains magnesium, which is known to ease symptoms of PMS. So, if your girlfriend or wife is having a bad time of it, bring her a big box of Rocky Mountain chocolates. Not only will she think you're a sweetheart, but maybe her mood will improve enough that she'll relinquish the remote and let you turn off Lifetime and watch the game.
4. Chocolate contains sugar and caffeine. Um, need I say more? Told you... Perfect.
3. Want to live longer? Eat more chocolate! In a Harvard University study conducted in 1999, researchers tracked 8,000 men and found those who ate chocolate lived almost a year longer than those who didn't. Although scientists don't know why the men lived longer, they speculate it has to do with the antioxidants found in chocolate.
2. Chocolate may prevent tooth decay. A study carried out by researchers at Osaka University in Japan found that parts of the cocoa bean, the main ingredient of chocolate, thwart mouth bacteria and tooth decay. In fact, it is so successful in combating decay that scientists believe some of its components may one day be added to mouthwash or toothpaste. Toss the Listerine! Give me a cup of Rocky Mountain cocoa!
And now the top scientific reason to love chocolate...
1. Are you nuts? Who needs a reason, anyway?
The Health Benefits of Dark Chocolate (Part 1)By: John Robbins March 3, 2011
Does having diabetes mean chocolate is off limits? According to John Robbins, author of The Food Revolution, eating dark chocolate isn�t just okay, it�s actually very good for you.
The food police may find this hard to take, but chocolate has gotten a bad rap. People say it causes acne, that you should eat carob instead, that it�s junk food. But these accusations are not only undeserved and inaccurate, they falsely incriminate a delicious food that turns out to have profoundly important healing powers.
There is in fact a growing body of credible scientific evidence that chocolate contains a host of heart-healthy and mood-enhancing phytochemicals, with benefits to both body and mind.
For one, chocolate is a plentiful source of antioxidants. These are substances that reduce the ongoing cellular and arterial damage caused by oxidative reactions.
You may have heard of a type of antioxidants called polyphenols. These are protective chemicals found in plant foods such as red wine and green tea. Chocolate, it turns out, is particularly rich in polyphenols. According to researchers at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, the same antioxidant properties found in red wine that protect against heart disease are also found in comparable quantities in chocolate.
How does chocolate help to prevent heart disease? The oxidation of LDL cholesterol is considered a major factor in the promotion of coronary disease. When this waxy substance oxidizes, it tends to stick to artery walls, increasing the risk of a heart attack or stroke. But chocolate to the rescue! The polyphenols in chocolate inhibit oxidation of LDL cholesterol.
And there�s more. One of the causes of atherosclerosis is blood platelets clumping together, a process called aggregation. The polyphenols in chocolate inhibit this clumping, reducing the risks of atherosclerosis.
High blood pressure is a well known risk factor for heart disease. It is also one of the most common causes of kidney failure, and a significant contributor to many kinds of dementia and cognitive impairment. Studies have shown that consuming a small bar of dark chocolate daily can reduce blood pressure in people with mild hypertension.
Why are people with risk factors for heart disease sometimes told to take a baby aspirin every day? The reason is that aspirin thins the blood and reduces the likelihood of clots forming (clots play a key role in many heart attacks and strokes). Research performed at the department of nutrition at the University of California, Davis, found that chocolate thins the blood and performs the same anti-clotting activity as aspirin. �Our work supports the concept that the chronic consumption of cocoa may be associated with improved cardiovascular health,� said UC Davis researcher Carl Keen.
How much chocolate would you have to eat to obtain these benefits? Less than you might think. According to a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 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.
Why, then, has chocolate gotten such a bum reputation? It�s the ingredients we add to it. Nearly all of the calories in a typical chocolate bar are sugar and fat.
As far as fats go, it�s the added fats that are the difficulty, not the natural fat (called cocoa butter) found in chocolate. Cocoa butter is high in saturated fat, so many people assume that it�s not good for your cardiovascular system. But most of the saturated fat content in cocoa butter is stearic acid, which numerous studies have shown does not raise blood cholesterol levels. In the human body, it acts much like the monounsaturated fat in olive oil.
The Health Benefits of Dark Chocolate (Part 2)Milk chocolate, on the other hand, contains added butterfat which can raise blood cholesterol levels. And it has less antioxidants and other beneficial phytochemicals than dark chocolate.
Does chocolate contribute to acne? Milk chocolate has been shown to do so, but I've never heard of any evidence incriminating dark chocolate.
Dark chocolate is also healthier because it has less added sugar. I'm sure you don't need another lecture on the dangers of excess sugar consumption. But if you want to become obese and dramatically raise your odds of developing diabetes, heart disease, cancer and Alzheimer's disease, foods high in sugar (including high fructose corn syrup) are just the ticket.
Are chocolate's benefits limited to the health of the body? Hardly. Chocolate has long been renown for its remarkable effects on human mood. We are now beginning to understand why.
Chocolate is the richest known source of a little-known substance called theobromine, a close chemical relative of caffeine. Theobromine, like caffeine, and also like the asthma drug theophylline, belong to the chemical group known as xanthine alkaloids. Chocolate products contain small amounts of caffeine, but not nearly enough to explain the attractions, fascinations, addictions, and effects of chocolate. The mood enhancement produced by chocolate may be primarily due to theobromine.
Chocolate also contains other substances with mood elevating effects. One is phenethylamine, which triggers the release of pleasurable endorphins and potentates the action of dopamine, a neurochemical associated with sexual arousal and pleasure. Phenethylamine is released in the brain when people become infatuated or fall in love.
Another substance found in chocolate is anandamide (from the Sanskrit word "ananda," which means peaceful bliss). A fatty substance that is naturally produced in the brain, anandamide has been isolated from chocolate by pharmacologists at the Neurosciences Institute in San Diego. It binds to the same receptor sites in the brain as cannabinoids -- the psychoactive constituents in marijuana -- and produces feelings of elation and exhilaration. (If this becomes more widely known, will they make chocolate illegal?)
If that weren't enough, chocolate also boosts brain levels of serotonin. Women typically have lower serotonin levels during PMS and menstruation, which may be one reason women typically experience stronger cravings for chocolate at these times in their cycles. People suffering from depression so characteristically have lower serotonin levels that an entire class of anti-depressive medications called serotonin uptake inhibitors (including Prozac, Paxil, and Zooloft) have been developed that raise brain levels of serotonin.
The Early Days One Man's Dream Makes for Smiles and a Sweet Opportunity
Frank Crail had a dream� to raise a family in a quiet, small town environment. Not having a plan to support his dream in Durango, Colorado, the quaint Victorian-era town in which they had chosen to settle, he began surveying the town�s local residents and merchants. �It came down to either a car wash or a chocolate shop,� recalls the father of seven. �I think I made the right choice.� Today, a shop still stands on Main Street, with its sights and smells tempting tourists and locals alike to experience a cornucopia of chocolaty treats before a breath-taking ride on the scenic Durango-Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad or after a half-day white water rafting trip through town. Twenty one years later, from that tiny shop downtown emerged the need for a 53,000 square foot factory located on the town�s outskirts, built to supply hundreds of franchised stores throughout the United States and the world.
Quality Products, Quality People
Taste Test Winner
�The number one factor is the quality of the product,� says President and CEO Crail. As a testament, Crail proudly points to a page from Money magazine mounted on his office wall which features Rocky Mountain Chocolate winning the coveted 3-heart rating in a blind taste test. The candy maker�s chocolate beat out See�s Candies, Perugina, Teuscher, Godiva and Fanny May for the �richest chocolate, with intense natural flavor.�
Old Fashioned Treats, Upscale Gifts
Another trademark is the unusually large portions of chocolate on display. �This was a fortunate mistake,� Crail recalls. �In the early days, my partners and I did not know how to make chocolate and had to learn on a ping pong table. From the start we made the candy centers too big, not compensating for the added size and weight when coating the pieces in chocolate. And if they didn�t look quite right we would dip them again.� The mountain-sized pieces instantly caught on and have remained the Rocky Mountain trademark ever since.
Best of all are the classic treats at Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory � many that haven�t been seen by adults since childhood. Besides the delightful caramel-covered apples (over 30 varieties!), fudge is made fresh daily using traditional methods. A marble slab pulls the heat out of the favorite confection while the cook shapes it with paddles into a giant 22-pound �loaf�. A variety of fruits, nuts, pretzels and cookies are also dipped by hand in pots of melted milk, dark and white chocolate.
Fine chocolates, such as the Company�s signature piece, the Bear�, a paw-sized concoction of chewy caramel, roasted nuts and a heavy coating of chocolate, are shipped fresh on one of the Company�s many refrigerated trucks. Other favorites include nut clusters, butter creams, exotic flavored truffles, toffee and a king-sized peanut butter cup appropriately dubbed the �Bucket��. Recently, the Company developed a new line of sugar-free and no-sugar-added candies. Results have been �spectacular�, filling a need for those with special dietary requirements.
Traditional Methods, Contemporary Presentation
Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory shops are a unique blend of the traditional and contemporary. Every cooking area features a hand-forged copper kettle on a gas-fired stove, a massive 500-pound granite marble slab for cooling confections, and a variety of hand utensils, reinforcing the quality and freshness of the products.
�A great deal has happened over the years,� recounts Crail with a twinkle in his eye. �I never imagined that in my search for a place to raise a family things would turn out so sweet!�
Biodiversity and Sustainable Cocoa GrowingOur primary chocolate supplier, Guittard, has been incorporating "biodiversity" into its "sustainable cocoa growing" practices.
Sustainable growing means that cocoa trees are grown in biologically diverse agricultural system, along with other economically beneficial trees. Since cocoa trees require shade , they can be grown under a canopy of commercially valuable trees such as banana and rubber.
Other shade trees provide local foods, such as Grumixana, Sapote and Breadfruit. Shade trees can also provide timber and other fiber products. By carefully choosing and planting shade trees, farmers reap many economic and ecological benefits from a diverse tree crop. This combination of agriculture and forestry is known as "agroforestry".
With biodiversity there are more plants and animals for food, timber, for fiber, for construction work, for flooring, for roofing, and most everything that is requires on the farm. Many trees and plants also provide habitats and food for animals. The farmer maintains or increases his cocoa bean production each year by using efficient, low cost methods that minimize impact on the rainforest environment. At the same time, sustainable growing allows the farmer to increase his families standard of living.
Guittard is a member of the World Cocoa Foundation that is committed to environmental stewardship within the cocoa industry.
Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory vs GodivaBelow are excerpts from the Feb 1, 2011 edition of the Columbus, GA Food Examiner publication written by Rebecca Parnell:
G.I. Joe and I spent a wonderful day shopping at the Polaris Mall, getting ready for his next deployment to Afghanistan. Somehow, we found ourselves getting into a heated discussion over who has the best chocolate, Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory or Godiva Chocolates. Once he caught the whiff of chocolate, there was only one this to do; turn this into an article and write our two bags of candy off for tax purposes.
First stop, the Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory. Before I could even ask any questions for my article, G.I. Joe was drooling all over the glass that encases the chocolate covered apples and asked if it were possible to ship them to Afghanistan. Brian, the store manager, was more than willing to figure out a way. After trying a sample of their new Avalanche Bark, which is a spinoff of a Rice Krispy Treat with chocolate and marshmallows, we left with an assortment of Rocky Mountain Clusters, chocolate covered peanuts, a peanut butter bucket, a black cherry truffle, and a pecan bear chocolate apple. I learned that Rocky Mountain sells their decadent morsels for around $20 a pound, which isn�t bad when you consider the quality, customer service, and variety. It never disappoints. Having met our set $15 dollar spending limit, we walked out into the mall, happy and smiling, ready to take on our next destination, Godiva.
The entire chocolate experience could not have been more different. Cold, rude, and indifferent, these are the three words, and the only three words I can come up with to describe the customer service. First, there was one man waiting on both chocolate and coffee orders, and he clearly needed more help. We strolled around in the store, admiring their beautiful displays while we waited to speak with Dewayne, the manager. I wanted to know if they had any specials, what their best selling candy was, etc. He made his intentions clear. Ring us up, take our money, and get us out. At $48 a pound, what is so special about these chocolates? I for one will not go back because of the terrible customer service. My dining companion left hostile, saying that for $15, you would at least expect a �Thank You� or a �Come Again�.
So at home, we conducted a blind taste test on the counter at home. We had a smooth coconut truffle, free for signing up for email), an inch square morsel of chocolate almond bark, and three prepackaged chocolate dipped macaroons. You can�t simply judge an entire company by bad customer service, so I left it up to a panel of judges.
Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory blew Godiva away, hands down. Truffle to truffle, theirs was both creamier and more chocolate tasting without needing an insulin shot. The macaroons were fresh, but bland, both the chocolate and the coconut.
So I ask you, readers, to weigh in on this. Which do you prefer, Rocky Mountain or Godiva? Valentine�s Day is just around the corner, and in this economy, money left for chocolates is hard to come by. Tell me what you think. Until next time happy eating!