Mainewhile: Dark chocolate: How sweet it is – for your blood pressure

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If you know me, then you know I am addicted to citations. I’ve never met a fact I didn’t love to research and verify, extrapolate upon, or disprove and debunk.

Brunswick resident Heather D. Martin wants to know what’s on your mind; email her at [email protected]

Well, not this time.

In this one instance, I am happy to let the headline stand, as is, unchallenged, unresearched, unquestioned.

What might this outlier be, you ask? I’ll tell you: “Chocolate could be just as good for the heart as high blood pressure medication.”

Woo hoo! Yes! In this world of information tsunamis, where each breaking wave of news is more bleak and devastating than the last, a golden ray of sunshine breaks. I will take this medical study to the bank. Or at least to my shopping and eating habits.

OK, OK, I admit, I was a bit embarrassed to admit that I found this on a website named StudyFinds.org.

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Lucky for me, turns out the study was performed by Harvard (check!) and the results were also published by AARP and the National Institute of Health.

There we are then. It is legit, people.

The study goes on to say that, obviously, increased sugar and fat consumption need to be factored in and these benefits are tied to dark chocolate, not milk chocolate, or white chocolate, which technically isn’t chocolate at all.

Also, it’s worth taking a look at the websites of Green America and slavefreechocolate.org to check that the cacao is ethically sourced. A lot of chocolate in the marketplace uses child slave labor. Godiva and Ferrero are ranked as the worst; Divine, Equal Exchange and Endangered Species (three brands I see on local shelves a lot), ranked at the top.

Once you’re through all the cautions, however, you’re back to the main takeaway, which is that dark chocolate lowers blood pressure.

It is good for you and we have heaps of fantastic options available to us.

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Living up to our state tagline, “The Way Life Should Be,” Maine is resplendent with small, independent chocolatiers. Many of these local shops have statements about their sourcing, and all are fellow Mainers, so you can ask the question and start a conversation if they don’t.

Obviously, we start with Wilbur’s, right on Maine Street in downtown Brunswick. Fantastic local business, online web store – and they even offer a cooler pack to keep your chocolate from liquifying while you get it home. If you can wait. Taking chocolate home has never been my strong suit.

Downtown Portland hosts Dean’s Sweets, which sees the business as a part of the greater community, incorporating local foods such as blueberries, maple syrup, coffee, butter, cream – even local vodka – in their creations. You can visit the store, or have them ship. They even do subscription boxes. (Hint, hint, family).

Another favorite of mine is Ragged Coast Chocolates in Westbrook. Elegant gourmet chocolates – and they deliver!

These are just three of the many tasty, amazing options.

Going back to the study itself, there is some debate about whether lower blood pressure is a result of the chemical composition of the chocolate, or if it is the placebo effect. Myself? I don’t care. I’m cool with the placebo effect. I figure it’s my brain looking out for me. And this is why, given the ever-present tsunami of ill news requiring all our attention, I am going to practice some self-care and up my intake of dark chocolate. Care to join me?

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