Feb. 1, 2018 -- From the February Wellness newsletter from the district’s Food Services department
Did you know...?
Chocolate and hearts go together this time of year. And, yes, a little dark chocolate now and then can even be good for you, and your heart. But chocolate may not be around for too many more Valentine's Days.
You see, the cocoa plant, from which chocolate is made, only grows in a narrow band of the earth just above and below the equator. In fact, most of the world's chocolate comes from the West African lands that are within this small slice of the globe -- the cocoa plant thrives in the region's rainforests. But the earth is warming. And scientists at our National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) warn that the prime cocoa growing areas of the world could be too warm to grow the crop by as soon as 30 or 40 years from now. This is just a small example of how the changing climate could have profound and unpredictable effects on our food supply -- and our well-being.
Other tips for taking a stand for better health:
Try lots of different fruits, veggies and whole grains for a healthy diet. You’re bound to find a few you really like. This month's spotlight fruit is berries.
The bittersweet taste of high-cocoa dark chocolate can take some getting used to, but dark chocolate combined with berries enhances the sweetness of the healthful dark chocolate and adds the nutritional value of the fruit. In moderation, it's the perfect dessert or snack pairing!
Like to exercise outside? Then you're no doubt aware of the risk of too much sun. Eaten regularly, cocoa beans or cocoa-rich dark chocolate have been shown to prevent skin damage from ultraviolet rays.
Here's something else that seems too good to be true: Eating high-cocoa chocolate helps you learn easier, too. Dark chocolate enables "improvements of cognitive processing, visual-spatial awareness, abstract reasoning, scanning [and] working memory." (Jacky Miller, "14 Health Benefits of Dark Chocolate.") Still not convinced? Do a search online for "dark chocolate health benefits" and you'll find even more wonderful side effects of this bittersweet treat. Then eat some dark chocolate right before your next test!
Chocolate doesn't have to be a guilty pleasure. Dark chocolate that's at least 60 percent cocoa and low in added sugar is loaded witn nutrients and healthful antioxidants. It's been shown to help prevent depression, heart disease and stroke; improve healthy HDL cholesterol and lower LDL (the unhealthy kind); boost the immune system; lower blood pressure; and even control a cough! And dark chocolate is high in nutrients, including fiber, protein and iron.