Dark Chocolate with At Least 70 Percent Cocoa
Good-quality chocolate, which is high in cocoa and devoid of the waxy fillers you’ll find in the average drugstore candy bar, is packed with antioxidants that reduce blood pressure, lower cholesterol, and protect against damage from free radicals, which speed up the aging process and contribute to cancer. Then there’s the way it makes you feel: Cocoa contains phenylethylamine, a chemical that acts on the body’s nerve receptors the same way marijuana does, raising serotonin levels and helping to keep you calm and happy, Kimball says.
The higher the percentage of cocoa in the chocolate, the higher the antioxidant and fiber content, so look for at least 70 percent cocoa. Try the new grown-up candy bars on the market, such as dark chocolate with almonds and sea salt, chilies, orange essence, or crystallized ginger. To keep calories in check, limit your portion size to no more than one ounce a day, Kimball advises.
"All cheese is rich in vitamin D, calcium, and protein, which we need for bone health," Guttersen says. The particular benefit of artisanal cheese is that it’s produced in small batches, usually with local ingredients and using old-fashioned manufacturing techniques — so it’s fresh, pure, and free of the fillers, additives, and coloring found in industrially mass-produced cheeses.
On average, cheese contains about 80 to 110 calories per ounce, Kimball notes. The more pungent the type, the less you need to eat to enjoy the full flavor. Feta is naturally lower in fat than most hard cheeses. So try it over pasta or a salad, smear an ounce of goat cheese on your lunchtime sandwich, or pair a piece of fruit with some shavings from a chunk of Parmigiano-Reggiano for a snack.
Originally published in MORE magazine, June 2008.