You can still have a Chocolate Fix

You don’t have to give up on your chocolate fix

Tips for Public Speaking

One of my regular treats is a couple of squares of my favourite chocolate with a small cup of dark coffee after lunch.

Standard wisdom is that caffeine and chocolate are both bad for your voice. Caffeine because it dehydrates and chocolate because dairy products tend to cause “clagging” in the throat.

Ah! But! It all depends!

Coffee Might Actually be Good for You

The difficulty with dietary advice is that studies come and studies go and often contradict each other. However, according to a 2021 study from Harvard, “a moderate coffee intake is linked to a lower likelihood of type 2 diabetes, heart disease, liver and endometrial cancers, Parkinson’s disease and depression. It is even possible that people who drink coffee can reduce their risk of early death.”

Obviously it depends on how you take your coffee. Drinks that are heavily laced with sugars, cream, dairy products in general, and other adulterants may not be quite so beneficial. A black coffee or coffee with a dash of milk and a small spoonful of sugar may be more what the Harvard researchers were imagining.

One thing is sure, Western diets contain far too much salt, sugar, hydrogenated fats and are far too processed. As a rule of thumb the less you do to your food, in terms of processing, the better.

Another important consideration is quantity. The study talks about two to five standard cups a day. That means if you’ve already downed several mugs before you’ve left home you probably need to ease back. My approach is to go for quality. I have a small espresso machine at home. It’s all a bit of a palaver to make a cup, so I reserve that for just after lunch. The same applies at work. I allow myself to one well made coffee from Butler’s Kitchen across the road. They make the best long black in our area. It’s a treat so I savour it.

For hydration I opt for water, regular tea or a herbal tea, like peppermint or lemon and ginger.

So it is with coffee and chocolate opt for quality over quantity.

Quality Chocolate

Cocoa is widely regarded as a superfood. Johns Hopkins Medicine cites numerous
advantages for eating chocolate. However, most chocolate we consume contains very little cocoa.

If you pay attention to these things, you may have noticed that after you’ve consumed a bar of chocolate, that it tends to stick around a bit in your throat. In fact, it’s the dairy products in chocolate that tend to cause this clagging effect. Most popular brands of milk chocolate contain less than 25% cocoa solids. By far the biggest ingredient by weight in most milk chocolate is milk meaning that it would be far more accurate to call these products, “chocolate flavoured milk bars.”

If, like me, you’re a chocoholic take a look at the ingredients list on the back.
Ingredients are ranked in order of quantity, with the biggest listed first. If it’s milk chocolate, that’s what will appear at the top of the list. The important flavour bit cocoa will usually appear as two parts, cocoa butter and cocoa mass, but always after sugar. Other flavourings and things that improve the shelf life will appear at the end.

As a sweet-toothed kid I was addicted to as much milk chocolate as my pocket money would buy. Now that I’m older I’ve learnt to appreciate the intensity and richness of a good quality dark chocolate. I get no commission for saying this but my favourite brand is Green & Blacks. They do several exceptional bars, notably their 85% Cocoa Intense Dark. Occasionally I will have one of their Maya Gold bars – but that only contains 60% cocoa.

To get the greatest benefit from from chocolate you need one that contains at least 70% cocoa solids. Obviously having more cocoa will mean that there will be less of the other ingredients, like sugar. It is a trade-off though. I have found that the more cocoa solids there are in a bar, the dryer and more powdery the flavour becomes. Lindt do a 90% bar but I find that hard to eat. That’s why I like the Green & Blacks 85%. Somehow they have managed to make it taste smoother and more creamy than their 70% version. Go figure!


Green & Blacks

There is one more thing to think about with dark chocolate, the satiety index. By that I mean how much of something it takes to give you that feeling of satisfaction. Eggs for example score high on the satiety index because the protein in them means you can’t eat many of them in one sitting. A huge benefit with very dark chocolate is that you can’t eat too much of it before you’ve had enough. At a real push I can eat six small squares of the Green & Black Intense Dark. Normally I’ll have four small squares with a small cup of black coffee. Beautiful!

A Little of what you Fancy does you Good

Moderation! Always moderation! A little of what you fancy does you good, especially if you aim for quality rather than quantity.

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Robert Pattie-Williams
Clearly Talking
Melbourne February 2023