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Maximizing Chocolate for Health

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Maximizing Chocolate for Health

Dark chocolate bar, Pariguan. Sold for $11at La Maison Du Chocolat.

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According to a recent report published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ), dark chocolate -- when eaten regularly in moderation -- is actually good for you.

The study suggests that chocolate consumption is linked to “substantial reduction” of coronary heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure and other cardiovascular conditions. 

Makes sense, considering studies show that dark chocolate has low sugar and dairy content as well as anti-oxidant properties.

With dark chocolate, “you’re not dealing with as much dairy, which has fat and cholesterol," said Michael Olsen, the boutique manager at La Maison Du Chocolat, "though some dark chocolate bars have a bit of ganache, made of cream, which contains dairy."

The lead author of BMJ’s chocolate study, Dr. Oscar Franco, from the University of Cambridge Department of Public Health and Primary Care, said chocolate may be beneficial, "but it should be eaten in a moderate way, not in large quantities and not in binges.”

Olsen agrees. “The point is not to overdo it,” he said.

Olsen says dark chocolate is a stimulant. “If you overindulge, there are certain compounds in the chocolate that open up the same nerves in your brain that marijuana does – you may experience a bit of euphoria.”

The key is to really enjoy the one or two pieces that you do eat.

Here are some tips Olsen has for chocoholics:

Enjoy the Experience: “Actually sit down and taste the chocolate rather than eating it.” Olsen said one of his customers said it best: "Have a conversation with chocolate.”

And make a commitment to enjoying yourself: “You can satisfy everything -- your sense of taste, smell and everything else in your mouth.”

Don’t Overindulge: “Having two to three pieces of chocolate [a day] is very satisfying.”

“You can get away with having two to three exquisite pieces of dark chocolate when you think about the flavors, aromas and texture and the visual of the chocolate – all the things that go into tasting a properly made chocolate. It’s a very sensual experience.”

Be Open to Trying Dark Chocolate: “A lot of people have this attitude that dark chocolate is bitter, which isn’t necessarily true.” Pariguan is an example of a dark chocolate bar that has nice floral tones and fruit – "not a trace of bitterness," said Olsen.

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