I Lust After Endorphins

Since we’re talking about food, just wanna share this article I wrote and submitted when I once applied as a writer in a lifestyle magazine. I didn’t get the job but no bother. 🙂

I’ve always had a thing for desserts, and by desserts, I mean CHOCOLATE.

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Do you find yourself sneaking to the fridge at 3am just for a bite of dark, guilty goodness? Be guilty no more. Here’s one more reason to love chocolate: it just steals your heart, in a totally healthy way!

We’ve always had a long-standing love affair with chocolate. What’s not to love about it? Chocolate is a luxe.

We can never say no to it.  From the simpler chocnut and almond-filled chocolate bars to the heavenly Godiva brand, chocolate is a treat always included in our dining palette.

Our weakness for it probably dates back two thousand years ago, when the Mayans and Aztecs developed a bitter drink from the fruit of the cacao tree. In fact, the word ‘chocolate’ which translates to ‘nahuatl’ in Aztec means ‘bitter water’. Cacao beans are also very valuable and in Aztec culture they were used extensively in trade.

Another historic fact—it is believed that chocolate plays an important role in the worship of the Aztec goddess of fertility, Xochiquetzal. So every time we consume every sweet, creamy piece of that chocolate bar, we should probably give a tip of the hat to the ancients who invented it.

Now besides the fact that it is an awesome dessert, chocolate is also well-known for its health benefits; the darker the chocolate, the less it contains sugar and fat.

Stuff that look like these doesn’t last long in MY fridge. 🙂

According to Mark Stibich, Ph.D, chocolate is made of plants; therefore it has many of its health advantages. One of those advantages is flavanoids, which act as antioxidants. Antioxidants protect the body from aging caused by free radicals, which can cause damage that can lead to heart disease. Flavanoids too help relax blood pressure and balance certain hormones in the body.

A small bar of chocolate everyday is good for the heart, as it keeps the heart and cardiovascular system into running well. It lowers blood pressure and cholesterol. Studies show that it reduces LDL (the bad cholesterol) by up to 10 percent.

You may ask, doesn’t chocolate have lots of fat in it? Here’s the good news: some fats in chocolate does not affect your cholesterol level. The fats in chocolate are 1/3 oleic acid, 1/3 stearic acid and 1/3 palmitic acid. That means only 1/3 of the fat in dark chocolate is bad for you.

Aside from protecting your heart, chocolate also holds other benefits. It tastes oh-so good; it stimulates endorphin production, which gives a feeling of pleasure; it contains serotonin, which acts as an anti-depressant; and it contains theobromine, caffeine and other substances which are stimulants.

But that still doesn’t mean you should eat pounds of it every day. Excessive consumption of chocolate is still unhealthy. It is still a high-calorie, high-fat food. Most of the studies done used no more than 100 grams, or about 3.5 ounces of dark chocolate a day to get the benefits.

Mr. Stibich has the following tips:

Taste the Chocolate. Chocolate is a complex food with over 300 compounds and chemicals in each bite. To really enjoy and appreciate chocolate, take the time to taste it. Professional chocolate tasters have developed a system for tasting chocolate that include assessing the appearance, smell, feel and taste of each piece.

Go for Dark Chocolate. Dark chocolate has far more antioxidants than milk or white chocolate. These other two chocolates cannot make any health claims. Dark chocolate has 65 percent or higher cocoa content.

Skip the Nougat. You should look for pure dark chocolate or dark chocolate with nuts, orange peel or other flavorings. Avoid anything with caramel, nougat or other fillings. These fillings are just adding sugar and fat which erase many of the benefits you get from eating the chocolate.

Avoid Milk. It may taste good but some research shows that washing your chocolate down with a glass of milk could prevent the antioxidants being absorbed or used by your body.

Bet you don’t feel so guilty anymore. Racing to the nearest chocolate store? Have a happy, healthy chocolate fix! ■

Info source here.

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I Aim to Stay Healthy

I am very happy with the fact that I’m gaining weight. For years, I’ve always been the very thin boy in class, and even though my parents urge me to eat MORE, back then, I just couldn’t do it. I didn’t have the drive for food…or eating.

And then last year, I got very sick. I had pulmonary tuberculosis. It was a wake-up call. No. It was a big-ass slap in the face. I already have a job then, just fresh from college. I was eating well, but most of the time, it’s just a small bite here and there before work. At times, I was starving but didn’t seem to notice. Thus, a weak immune system.

The cough came, the colds, the fever. A week at the hospital–where my parents supported me, but they were also a bit pissed  that I neglected myself to this state. They’ve showered me with reminders that I didn’t care to listen to.

Then the treatment–capsules, pills, liquid meds, injections. A 2-month recovery period at the house where I grew up. I left the city and my job, but only for a while. When I was finally better, I thought: “That was it. I don’t wanna have to go through that again.”

And I started doing what would’ve prevented me getting sick–eating more.

Eating a lot, eating everything, even stuff I don’t like much because they’re healthy and they’re good for me. It was enjoyable, it was great. Now, I love food.

And I’m gaining weight, which is even better. They tell it’s an improvement and I believe them. I see it when I look at myself in the mirror. And a reminder to myself everyday– STAY HEALTHY. 🙂