THE TRUTH ABOUT DARK CHOCOLATE
As you give and get chocolate for Valentine’s Day (or jump on post- holiday chocolate sales), you’ll probably hear that dark chocolate is healthy for you. Before you decide to incorporate dark chocolate into your daily diet, you should ask yourself what that means. Can dark chocolate really be “healthy”? Studies on dark chocolate’s supposed benefits focus on compounds found within cocoa, specifically flavanols, which are found in most fruits and vegetables (and cocoa!) and help lower blood pressure and reduce low-density lipoproteins, aka “bad” cholesterol. By that notion, dark chocolate does have heart health benefits, but taking advantage of those benefits is not as simple as just eating dark chocolate. Each bar will include a percentage, which indicates the amount of cocoa. The higher the percentage, the better; 70%– 80% is considered the sweet spot in terms of balancing health
benefits and flavor, but as the percentage of cocoa increases, the more bitter the chocolate becomes.
However, the amount of flavanols found in a typical 1-ounce piece of 80% dark chocolate is very small. Alice H. Lichtenstein, a Gershoff professor of nutrition science and policy at Tufts University in Boston, says, “Dark chocolate has more flavanols than other types of chocolate; the data to suggest there is enough to have a health effect is thin at this point.” A 2017 study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association that focused on dark chocolate, cocoa, and raw almonds also concluded that the heart benefits were small. Dark chocolate appeared most effective when paired with other heart-healthy foods, such as almonds. So what about other types of chocolate, like milk or semi-sweet? Once the cocoa content falls below 60%, the benefits disappear entirely. The flavanol levels are too low and the sugar and fat content too high, which negates any heart health benefits. As with all good things, moderation is key. Eating too much dark chocolate has the reverse effect and can cause inflammation, and inflammation is the enemy of the heart.
THE MOST UNUSUAL VALENTINE’S DAY LAWSUITS
If you aren’t celebrating Valentine’s Day, don’t feel too bad. By not celebrating, your holiday will likely be significantly better than any of the stories featured here this month. There are plenty of instances where Valentine’s Day caused far more trouble than it was worth for everyone involved. One Toxic Airline Once, an undisclosed airline employee was warned at the start of her job that she’d be exposed to profanity — employees simply “did not know how to act around female coworkers.” As it turned out, that was a complete understatement. After multiple instances of lewd jokes and explicit images filling her desk, she received a Valentine’s Day card that read, “On Valentine’s Day, remember — candy is dandy ... But sex won’t rot your teeth! So, what do you say?” The employee said it created an extraordinarily hostile, sexual ly poisonous work environment . Yet the court disagreed, dismissing her case for failing to rise to the level of “outrageous” conduct.
Dining Alone GoneWrong After eating lunch at a Japanese restaurant and seeing a movie, Kathleen Hampton and her husband planned to eat dinner at an Italian restaurant. Her husband changed his mind because he was still full, but Hampton decided to go on her own anyway. However, the staff seemed to treat her differently immediately. After waiting for over an hour, a group was seated before her. They also refused to seat her indoors, despite there being open tables. Then, after waiting for her order to be taken, a waiter said she’d have to leave. She couldn’t even order takeout when she asked. In interviews, Hampton explained that the difference in treatment was likely because of her dark skin color. Hampton sued for $100,000 and chose to represent herself, saying that she “didn’t want this to happen to anyone else in the Northeast Portland area.” We’ll never know the outcome because the case was settled confidentially. No matter how you spend Feb. 14, we hope it’ll be far better than these two stories! Have a wonderful rest of your month!
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