Connecting People to Places

Health and Wellness: Chocolate, a health food?

October 2013

By TL Grace West

Those of us who adore chocolate are pleased with more and more re­search showing health benefits of eating chocolate: especially raw, dark chocolate.

Cacao is the name of raw chocolate while cocoa is the processed version, meaning it is heated above 75 percent. When heating cacao some vitamins and minerals are lost. There is a whole raw food community promoting a mostly raw diet for optimum benefit from all foods (davidwolfe.com).

On Ocracoke, Debbie Wells (known as both the founder of the Back Porch restaurant and a mixed media artist) and Kathy Koss (owner operator of Southern Rain a garden design business in Chapel Hill) have created Graffiti Rose Raw Ca­cao Bar.  While in­terviewing both women, I was inspired by their commitment to hand-make in small batches these delicious, nutritious and affordable bars for our small community. I was able to watch Debbie make a batch (eight bars) then taste the incred­ible result. The chocolate flavor burst on the tip of my tongue.

“The flavor is best when the bar is room tempera­ture ~70-75 degrees,” Debbie said.  I experienced the gentle increase of energy without the sugar rush of other chocolate bars and subsequent crash. The coconut sugar used in Graffiti Rose bars has a low glyce­mic value of 35 compared to cane sugar’s value of 68. It sim­ply tasted delicious and a little bit goes a long way.

Here are some specifics about the nutritional benefits of the ingredients in a Graffiti Rose Cacao bar (see nurtition­news.com for more info):

  • Raw Cacao Powder: While taking my long test for my National Certification for Massage Therapy, during my breaks I would eat a square or two of chocolate contain­ing raw cacao powder. In my research I learned that it is the theobromine which is a bitter alkaloid similar to caf­feine (but not addictive) that is responsible for increasing blood flow and stimulating cognitive function and im­proving memory. I passed with flying colors. More re­cently, when I developed asthma and high blood pres­sure, I liked seeing that theo­bromine has been shown to reduce asthmatic symptoms and lower blood pressure.
  • Almonds: low cholesterol, a good source of Riboflavin, Magnesium, Manganese an a very good source of vita­min E.
  • Coconut oil: cholesterol free (an alternative to butter).
  • Maca: an adaptogenic herb from Peru that helps your body adapt to stress, assists hormone health and has the added benefit of being an aphrodisiac!

You can purchase Graf­fiti Rose Raw Chocolate Bars in the Community Store, the Variety Store, Ocracoke Gas Station and Zil­lie’s Island Pantry. In Chapel Hill, look for them at the Healing Earth Re­sources on Franklin St. and at Carrboro Acupuncture.