Phillip Minton M.D.

Archive for the ‘chocolate’ Category

Chocolate and Social Consciousness: It Can Be Complicated

In fair trade on May 27, 2012 at 3:55 pm

It is easy for us, consumers, to blame the government or big corporations for things we don’t like, and to demand that they “fix it”. The problem is, that sometimes these issues of moral and social concern are far more complex than we consumers realize. Because of that complexity, remedying the problems can take longer than we may wish. Nonetheless, informed consumers can make a difference.

Let’s take cocoa industry for instance. A large percentage of cocoa bean production occurs in two West African countries, Ghana and Ivory Coast. Unfortunately, the beans are produced in social and cultural environments that can harbor forced labor and child labor. We, western consumers, demand that these practices be stopped, and it appears that they are gradually being discontinued, albeit more slowly than we may wish. The core reason for such a slow change is the ingrained social and economic issues in both countries.

Keep reading

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Fairtrade Labeling in Chocolate Production: Is it the best answer to child slave labor and other concerns?

In fair trade on May 6, 2012 at 5:37 am

I recently read a Facebook post asking me to sign a petition demanding that Lindt take steps against child slave labor in the production of chocolate. It seemed incredible that such a large, old and respected producer of high end chocolate products would not have addressed this issue. This motivated me to research the topic.

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Health Chocolate versus Chocolate Candybars

In anti-aging, cardiovascular, chocolate, diabetes, diet, health food, low carb diet, prevention diet on May 4, 2012 at 4:37 pm

It may be apt to say that for many people, perhaps even most, who do not have a major health problem such as diabetes, chocolate itself is so healthful that even consuming chocolate in the form of candy may be better than eating none at all. The reason is that cocoa solids, the raw material from which all chocolate confections must, at least in part, be made is so very healthful.

Let’s think about it. What are the main differences between the common chocolate candy bar and health chocolate? Keep reading…

It’s Time for a New Folk-Saying

In quotes on April 22, 2012 at 3:39 am

Folk-sayings are simple statements of wisdom passed down through the ages.

A stitch in time saves nine.

An apple a day keeps the doctor away.

Wait a minute! From what I know about apples (yes they do have many beneficial health properties), and from what I know about chocolate (even more powerful health benefits), then it is definitely time for a new saying.

Since we now know that chocolate is even more beneficial to health than are apples, why doesn’t it have its own saying?.

My thought is this, given their relative strengths of health promotion, that if an apple a day keeps the doctor away, then a chocolate a day will keep the ambulance away!

What do you think? Email me with your ideas for a new saying attesting to the healthful properties of chocolate. I will publish them on this blog. Let’s see who comes up with the best ones!

New Guidebook on Enjoying Chocolate for Health and Longevity ePublished Today

In book on April 14, 2012 at 9:19 pm

Today Amazon will publish my new eBook called The Ultimate Users’ Guide to Healthy Chocolate. It is a concise guidebook to the use and enjoyment of healthy chocolate to energize our lives, and to help us resist heart disease, cancer, high blood pressure, depression, and even the aging process. It describes the composition and utilization of the fruit of the cacao tree to stimulate the body and mind to attain optimum health and function. It tells the reader how to obtain and use delicious wholesome chocolate to better the quality of life. Comparisons of various types of chocolate and methods of choosing the right one for specific purposes, as well as information on food and wine pairing, is certain to assist the reader in improving their lifestyle and adding to their healthy longevity. This is my second book on the topic of healthy chocolate, and his third on the science underlying natural health and healthy living. My previous titles include The Immortality Enzyme and Chocolate Healthfood of the Gods.

Toxic Lead Contamination of Chocolate Products

In chocolate on April 13, 2012 at 12:30 am

In past years there have been scattered reports of the possible contamination of chocolate by toxic lead. Lead is a metal which has many industrial uses, but which is invariably toxic to humans. Its main toxicity appears to be to poison the nervous system, including the brain.

Around the developed world, the toxic hazard of lead poisoning has a long history. Ancient Roman water pipes were often made of lead, leading to lead poisoning of the population to varying degrees, often affecting the upper social strata the most. Modern developed societies recognized the problem in the 1960’s, as inner city children were diagnosed in large numbers with lead poisoning. The problem this time was from two sources, lead paint and automobile exhaust. Lead had been added to paints and to gasoline as an additive for many decades before it became known that this resulted in neurotoxicity and other hazards, especially involving children. Inner city children were placed most at risk because they often ate the peeling remnants of old paint jobs, and were exposed to higher concentrations of auto exhaust fumes than were other populations of children.

Lead is a type of heavy metal toxin. It is a dense metal that can attach itself to our body tissues, causing many maladies, most notably high blood pressure and brain dysfunction. It is famous for leading to learning disabilities in affected youngsters.
Heavy metal toxins are a great health concern worldwide. Chief among these are lead and mercury. As I detailed in two chapters of my book, The Immortality Enzyme, published in the year 2000 but still available on Amazon and other book sellers, these toxic heavy metals often seem to permeate the modern environment. How did toxic lead find its way into chocolate? It appears to have been from two sources.

In certain instances, it was from leaded ink on the candy wrappers. Chocolate candies of both Chinese and Mexican origin have been found to be contaminated with lead. Testing of the candy itself and its labels, resulted in the conclusion that in some instances the lead in the ink on the labels of the candy wrappers had leached through the wrappers and contaminated the chocolate inside. Remedies? 1) Discontinue the use of leaded ink on candy wrappers. 2) Think twice about consuming chocolates from sources of questionable integrity.

In other instances it seems that the chocolate itself was contaminated as it was processed in the open air of Africa. African nations allow the continued use of leaded gasoline, so their air can be contaminated with residues of lead exhaust fumes from autos and trucks. Exposure of the semi-processed cacao paste to the open air as it dries in the African sun, can allow lead fumes from the air to attach to the cacao paste, thereby contaminating the end product- African chocolate. Remedies? 1) Do not cure cacao paste in contaminated air. 2) Exercise caution in consuming chocolate sourced from countries where lead permeates their atmosphere.

Lead contamination of chocolate is a real, but seemingly diminishing risk to our health. The potential presence of this famously toxic heavy metal, lead, is one of the possible negative side-effects of chocolate consumption. However, any food can be contaminated these same ways. Further information on this topic can also be found in my eBook, “The Ultimate Users’ Guide to healthy Chocolate”.

In summary, the ways in which chocolate has been contaminated by lead in the past is being addressed. We can also note that the same methods of lead contamination could easily also affect other foods and drinks sourced from the same producers.

Pairing Wine with Chocolate

In chocolate on April 3, 2012 at 4:03 am

The same concepts that pertain to foods and chocolate pertain to wines and chocolate. Dark chocolate is most commonly thought to pair with richer red wines, while white chocolate pairs best with light bodied “white” wines. Chocolates with a smokey flavor, such as those infused with toasted rice kernels, seem to pair best with rich well-oaked red wines, such as merlots, carbernet sauvignon, or cab-merlot blends. Chardonnays, especially those aged in oak, seem to taste best with white chocolate that is not too sweet. Sweeter white chocolates require, to most palates, light bodied wines that do not expose the taste buds to anything too sweet or flavorful on its own, since the sweetness of the white chocolate will need to predominate, so that the taste buds are not overwhelmed with “sweet”.

Since dark chocolate is our main focus, let’s specifically discuss wines that pair well with the darker chocolate confections. Many people find that fruity red wines pair well with dark chocolate, particularly when the dark chocolates are not particularly sweet.

There are two taste  components of both dark chocolate and red wines that must be considered, so that each of us can match wines and dark chocolates to our liking. Those taste components are “bitter” and “sweet”, since both red wines and chocolates can have varying degrees of bitterness and sweetness. Bitterness can be quite prominent in richer dark chocolates and in dark red wines that spent a long time in oak barrels. The other component, the taste “sweet”, may not be as prevalent in dark chocolate as in other types of chocolate, but still can be prominent enough to be a very important factor. Certainly each of us must decide what degrees of bitter and sweet in the wines we like pair well with dark chocolate, but in general it can be said that most dark chocolate tastes good when paired with darker, mid-bodied red wines such as moderately-oaked cabernet sauvignon, merlot, red zinfandel, cabernet franc, and cab-merlot blends.

@2012 Phillip Minton, M.D.

Chocolate Food Pairings

In chocolate on March 28, 2012 at 2:07 am

Chocolate Pairings with Food and Drinks
The concept of food pairing involves comparing the relative positives and negatives of the tastes, textures and aromas of various types of foods and beverages to optimize their pairing. For example, given a choice of pairing popcorn or avocado with chocolate, most people would choose popcorn as the better compliment to the taste, texture and aroma of chocolate. Keep reading

Truly Original Hot Cocoa

In chocolate, health food, history, recipe on March 22, 2012 at 11:38 pm

Totenac villagers from east coastal Mexico are making traditional hot cocoa drinks from raw,  natural cacao and vanilla, just as they have for hundreds of years. No one knows for sure how long the Totenacs have lived in the region, but their oral traditions at the time of Hernando Cortez in the 16th century indicated they had been there for at least 800 years prior to the arrival of the Spanish conqueror. Keep reading…

An Inspiring 2011 Year’s End Bit of Wisdom

In chocolate, immune system on December 30, 2011 at 11:58 am

An inspirational quote from a well-known source of information on natural remedies and healthful living – the Medicine Hunter:

“Pure, organic, non-alkalized cocoa appears to be the healthiest thing you can put into your body after water. And semi-sweet, dark organic chocolate is right up there, too.”

What a remarkable statement. Keep reading