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A Sweet Treat, From Us To You

posted Feb 9, 2015, 2:01 PM by Rachel Griffin   [ updated Nov 4, 2015, 12:40 PM by Julia Quam ]
This week, in honor of Valentine's Day, we are celebrating YOU (our customers) with some tasty treats.  Our Nutrition & Marketing team will be out in full force with hot cocoa and dark chocolate, spreading the love.   Check out our events calendar to see when we are coming to your cafeteria.

For centuries, cocoa-rich chocolate has been revered not only for its taste, but for its beneficial effect on health. The first cocoa beverage is believed to be created by the Olmec as many as 4,000 years ago who passed it on to the Maya and eventually to the Aztec, who are most known for the delicious elixir. They all believed it to have magical powers and reserved it for nobles and warriors who needed strength for battle. Although the hot chocolate of today is far from what these cultures consumed, the health benefits of cocoa, a main ingredient in chocolate as we know it, may be similar and are being studied. Cocoa beans contain flavanols, which have an antioxidant effect--possibly prevent heart disease by keeping blood vessels relaxed, thus easing blood pressure. 

Keep in mind that the highest concentrations of these powerful phytochemicals are found in natural cocoa powder (not Dutch cocoa which has been alkalized) and unsweetened baking chocolate. Dark chocolate and semi-sweet chocolate chips are easy on the palate while still contributing a good dose of antioxidants. However, the way chocolate is sold in most stores includes extra sugar, fat and calories so enjoy in moderation.  

Try practicing mindfulness when you're enjoying chocolate by taking a few minutes to focus on the treat.  Close your eyes and breathe in the aroma.  As you begin to taste the chocolate, let it melt on your tongue and fully enjoy the texture and taste.  Taking the time to savor the treat will not only help you feel satisfied with a smaller portion, but may also ease stress and tension, which just happens to be another recommendation for maintaining heart health. 
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