Chocolate is a way in which a fair number of you satisfy your sweet tooth, according to the question I posed on Facebook . The Weston A. Price Foundation considers it an “avoid”, on their list of dietary dangers.
I am likely one of the few who isn’t drawn to chocolate?! so it is easy for me to avoid. But, clearly for many, it isn’t something they are willing or inclined to give up!
In her book Nourishing Traditions, Sally Fallon Morell writes: “Chocolate cravings are a sign of magnesium deficiency.” She also writes, “It has been said that if coffee were introduced as a new drug today, it would not receive FDA approval. It is best to avoid all sources of caffeine and related substances—not just colas but also coffee and tea, decongestants, pep pills, aspirin, diuretics and—we’re sorry to say—chocolate.”
She has several side bars in her book on the topic as well:
“Suspected as a migraine causative for decades, chocolate has been cleared on the basis of insufficient evidence. Now things may be changing, thanks to new findings from a study by biochemist Vivette Glover —Twenty heavy migraine sufferers volunteered for the study—12 eating real chocolate and eight eating a carob placebo made to taste identical to the chocolate. Twenty-four hours after volunteers ate their test samples, five chocolate eaters experienced pounding migraines while the placebo eaters showed no symptoms. Asked what chemicals in chocolate brought on the migraines, Glover said that they had not as yet been isolated. Yet, two of the strongest suspects are catechin, also present in red wine, and the obromine, a biochemical cousin to caffeine in coffee.” – James F. Scheer Health Freedom News
“In the spiritual tradition of India, it is said that if you could taste the soul, it would be sweet. Indeed, the human condition in some of its most precious moments is perceived as “sweet”: “the sweet life,” our “sweetheart,” “sweet dreams,” or “the sweet smell of success.” Sweetness is an experience, and food is just one doorway that leads us there.”
“The Sufis believe that every object and sensation on the physical plane has a corresponding mirror image on higher planes. In their view the sweetness of food (on the physical level) is reflected in the sweetness of love (emotional), which is reflected in the sweetness of divine ecstasy (spiritual). Even though the sweetness of a chocolate truffle differs radically from the sweetness shared between lovers, the metaphoric connections still exist.
In fact, scientists have recently discovered a chemical compound in chocolate—phenylethylamine—believed to mimic the physiological sensations of love. Even more fascinating, in the religious traditions of the Hindus, Taoists, and Tibetan Buddhists, mystics have referred to an ecstatic state where a sensation of indescribable sweetness spontaneously arises in the mouth.
Contemporary accounts of this phenomenon are widespread among meditators and practitioners of religious traditions of the East and the West. Furthermore, the Austrian philosopher-scientist Rudolf Steiner pointed out the role various foods have played in the evolution of consciousness in different historical epochs. Sugar is seen as a food that has had a powerful effect in helping to expand personality force, creativity, and self-consciousness. Even today historians are at a loss to understand why so many wars have been fought over sugar and different spices. I offer this reason: Sugar and spices were the drugs of earlier cultures. When these foods were first introduced, their effect was even more powerfully narcotic and mind expanding than they are today.
When we eat sweets, our desire is not just for food. Our longing is for the experience of sweetness, something we can taste on the tongue, in the heart, or in our most sacred thoughts. However, because it is more difficult to find a sweetheart or sweet Jesus, the mind often considers sweet foods an acceptable substitute. Food happens to be the most available form of the sweet experience. Can you see how we instinctively crave sweetness on several different levels? Do you understand why it is a perfectly natural biological phenomenon? Sugary food is one of the most popular forms of substitute love. Its effect is even more potent when combined with the love-inducing chemicals in chocolate. The downside of repeated substitution is the same for sugar as it is for drugs, alcohol, or cigarettes—dependency. We become mechanically bound to sugar because it fulfills an immediate need and exerts a powerful narcotic effect.
It is important to note that the need for the sweet experience is inborn; but as every nutritional scientist knows, there is no physiological requirement for refined sugar in the diet. Quite the contrary. Excess sugar in the diet promotes tooth decay and obesity and has been implicated in heart disease, diabetes, hypoglycemia, immune deficiency diseases, digestive disorders, and allergies. Perhaps the most fascinating and best kept medical secret about sugar is that excessive consumption causes calcium loss, which leads to a much publicized disease of our day—osteoporosis.” – Marc David Nourishing Wisdom
You can read more about chocolate in an interview Ann Marie Michaels of Cheeseslave conducts with Rami Nagel on the topic of tooth decay. She reports:
Anti-Nutrients in Chocolate, Coffee and Tea
I’ve always wondered why Sally Fallon Morell advises against chocolate. Rami told me that chocolate is very high in phytic acid. Chocolate is made from the cocoa bean — it’s a bean seed! (We call it a bean but it is a seed.) Again, seeds are the worst. Raw chocolate is very high in oxalic acid and leaches calcium from the body.
Coffee, too, is a bean seed. It is also rich in oxalic acid, as is tea.
So I guess all these people eating raw cocoa nibs aren’t actually doing themselves any favors. And I guess those of us who have a sweet tooth (we know who we are) need to watch our chocolate consumption.
And for those of us who love our coffee and tea (again, we know who we are), have another reason to avoid it.
I’ve heard some proclaim, “give me chocolate or give me death” … Sally Fallon Morell recommends carob as an alternative. We recommend these brands of raw organic carob, available via our Amazon affiliation: Swanson Organic, Live Superfoods and One Lucky Duck.
Update December 18, 2011
Photo Flickr/elpatojo, Licensed under Creative Commons
This post first appeared on Facebook.