When I was a kid in elementary school, I was the girl who would bring a lunchbox full of things that nobody wanted to steal. Secretly I was happy for that fact. All my friends would trade their Go-Gurts for Lunchables, and I would be content to eat my own whole-wheat peanut butter and jalapeño-jelly sandwiches, Silk soy milk and Wheat Thins. I can also remember eating lemons like they were a regular fruit back then, although I don’t think I ever packed those for school lunches. That would’ve been taking it too far.
At home it wasn’t any different. I remember one time I was playing at my friend’s house and her mom offered us dessert. She went to the fridge to get us ice cream, and she also said she had brownies. Instead I asked for cantaloupe. For dessert.
I guess you could say I was a health-nut when I was younger. Then I grew up and found the joy in eating entire packets of Eggo waffles, and I began baking cookies and other unhealthy things at unhealthy times of the day, like breakfast time. But there is still one unhealthy thing that I don’t eat, and that’s chocolate.
I’ve never really liked chocolate. Even See’s candy makes me feel a little sick. Candy bars were never my first choice at Halloween. I always swapped with my friends for Airheads and Sweet Tarts. But recently I learned that chocolate can actually be a good thing, in moderation of course.
Apparently chocolate contains things called flavonoids that can prevent cancer and heart disease, and chocolate itself is considered an antioxidant. It can also help your body as an anti-inflammatory agent.
Chocolate keeps cholesterol from gathering in your blood vessels, which helps keep blood vessel function healthy. In addition, it helps reduce the risk of blood clots.
And chocolate is versatile. You can pick a chocolate bar that has walnuts or almonds in it, and get more bang for your buck because of that additional protein.
These health benefits really only apply to dark chocolate. Milk chocolate has less cocoa content and therefore less flavonoids. It also has more calories.
Calories are the one thing you need to watch out for when it comes to eating chocolate in order to keep your heart health in check.
Keep in mind the fact that you could get flavonoids from fruits as well, and be able to eat more of it and feel fuller.
But it’s not as fun to eat fruit as it is to eat chocolate, at least for people who like it. I think I’ll stick with fruit, but for all you students out there with a sweet tooth, stop feeling guilty and satisfy your cravings every once in a while! Just remember that chocolate shouldn’t be a substitute for fruits and vegetables.
Sorry, but there’s just no way to get out of eating those.
Are the dining halls boring you? Looking for something new to try? Every week, Mikaela Todd introduces great food on a budget from a college student’s perspective in Food for Slugs. New stories are posted Fridays through the quarter on the CHP Eats blog.