Posted in Kafevend Blog
Yesterday we brought you coffee pancakes for Shrove Tuesday, which means that today is the start of Lent. The obvious question is, are you giving anything up? One of the perennial abstention favourites is chocolate. Many people quell their cocoa bean addiction at this time of year, and then reacquire it fairly rapidly on Easter morning as they cram Easter egg into their mouths and get that feel good cocoa zing!
Chocolate really does have a feel good factor, indeed several feel good factors. For starters it's known to increase the brain's serotonin levels, thereby reducing anxiety levels and increasing your feeling of well being. Chocolate melts at body temperature, providing that wonderful sensory melt in the mouth experience. Its fat and sugar content also contribute to its appeal. As suggested by the recent BBC Horizon programme 'Sugar versus Fat', it's the combination of the two that's really addictive, which could go a long way to explaining why some people refer to themselves as chocoholics. Then there's the caffeine hit we get from chocolate which increases according to the percentage of cocoa solids. There are few people who don't enjoy chocolate and many who crave it on an almost daily basis, so giving it up for the six week period of Lent is undoubtedly quite a challenge.
On the flip side of the coin, if you're not about to forsake chocolate, you could easily argue that's a good thing too; when all is said and done research over the years has demonstrated that chocolate, especially dark chocolate, can be beneficial to health. It's even higher in antioxidants than green tea and if eaten in moderation has been shown to reduce blood pressure, lower cholesterol and decrease the associated risk of stroke, heart disease and cancer. You should be aiming for dark chocolate that contains around 70% minimum cocoa solids and the great thing about chocolate with a high cocoa content is that you don't need as much of it to feel satisfied, thus it's far easier to eat in moderation.
So if you're giving up chocolate for Lent – good luck, and if you're eating chocolate as usual – enjoy!