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There is a girl I have known for several years who, in that time, has been a nanny to at least three different families. Every time that I see her she has some crazy or exhausting story about the kids she watches: Temper tantrums, getting hit with tennis racquets and even finding gum in her hair. Still, you learn one important thing about children when listening to her, and that is, a child is an infallible creature. Bolstered by television commercials and the Internet, they are always right. If the Roman Catholic Church had any sensibility, the Pope would be a child. His infallibility relies solely upon a man-made document whereas a child just knows he is right – and has no problem telling you that you are wrong.  

 

The other day I bumped into her at the gym and she recounted to me how a young boy that she watches eats chocolate every day, many times a day, and that she is afraid this habit is going to rot his teeth. She has tried on several occasions to make him stop, but he never listens. She explained that conversations with this child generally go like this:

 

Nanny: You shouldn’t eat so much chocolate! 

Child: I can eat as much as I want – because it’s good for me.  

Nanny: Who says?

Child: The FDA

Nanny: Well, too much of it and the sugar will rot your teeth.

Child:  Actually, two out of three dentists recommend chocolate as a way to prevent tooth decay.  

Nanny: Who told you that?

Child: Dr. Oz

 

She gave up at this point and let him eat the chocolate. 

 

But I was intrigued. Was this child right? Is chocolate actually good for you?

 

According to a recent study, it is. The consumption of a small amount of chocolate each day – as little as a quarter of an ounce – reduces the risk of a heart attack or stroke. Dark chocolate is the most effective, while milk chocolate follows in second, and white chocolate having no effect whatsoever. 

Chocolate

 

Experts claim that the healthy benefits of chocolate arise from a metabolite called flavonoids that are contained within cocoa.  This natural compound is known to reduce arterial inflammation. Dark chocolate contains more cocoa than both milk and white chocolate, thus it is more beneficial to an individual’s health. This should not be an excuse to eat excessive amounts of chocolate, however. It still has plenty of calories that enjoy making a home on your midsection, or buttocks. So do as the Greeks once advised, “Everything in moderation”. “Unless,” as Socrates added, “you just got dumped.” Then eat that entire pint of Ben and Jerry’s.

 

As for tooth decay, it has been shown that chocolate does indeed reduce the risk of tooth decay. Chocolate contains tannins, which are naturally occurring polyphenols that prevent bacteria from sticking to teeth. Cavities form when bacteria on the teeth digest sugars, producing lactic acid as a byproduct, and subsequently cause decay. Thus, minimal or moderate consumption is recommended due to the high amount of sugar that chocolate has within it.  

 

I had just gotten two scoops of chocolate ice cream from Ben and Jerry’s when I saw my friend walking up to the counter with a small boy. He was holding his cheek and his eyes looked a little puffy, as if he had just been crying. My friend leaned in and told me that he had just been to the dentist, where they found several cavities in his teeth, and had subsequently extracted them.  

 

Chocolate,” she whispered. There was a look of supreme satisfaction upon her face.  

 

“So, what kind of ice cream are you going to get, big guy?” I inquired, taking a big lick of my top scoop.

 

He saw what was on my cone, and then said, “I’m not getting ice cream. I’m getting frozen yogurt. It’s better for you than ice cream.”

 

“Oh really?” I responded. “I’ve read that frozen yogurt actually has more sugar in it than ice cream. It will rot your teeth.”

 

He let out a small yelp then put both of his hands over his mouth.  

 

“I don’t want yogurt anymore. Let’s just go home!” 

 

I said goodbye to my friend, and gave her a wink. Then I walked back to work, thoroughly enjoying my two scoops of chocolate ice cream.  


www.Dishmag.com / Issue 199 - June 2018
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