Does chocolate kill dogs? It might! But it doesn't!
The article is from the American Veterinarian Medical Association (AVMA) Veterinary Neurology and Neurosurgery. It is a great review of the medical effects of chocolate, particularly in the context of stroke, that is worth your attention. In fact it is such an interesting subject that it deserves its own blog post. I had written some notes here, and a little more information about the study on the AVMA website.
Chocolate is delicious and delicious things make us do silly things, but chocolate might kill our pets. We just don't know which chocolate is safe for dogs and cats to eat.
The American Veterinary Medical Association. Veterinary Neurology and Neurosurgery. 2010,6(4):822-824
Since the first dog was domesticated by early humans in 4000 BC, the dog has become an essential member of the family. Dogs are beloved companions, protectors, and providers for people of all ages, including children. Even though they are domesticated animals, many dogs, particularly those that work in the family, are trained and encouraged to serve and protect for long periods. One of the most appreciated traits of the human family dog is his or her intelligence, making dogs a valuable and reliable aid to the family.
The World Health Organization estimated that in 2000, nearly 1.2 billion people or about one quarter of the world's population used chocolate (1). More recently, in the United States, the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey revealed that 11% of adults, and 21% of children and adolescents, reported that they consumed chocolate during the past year. Among this population, the percentage of those that admitted to consuming a chocolate bar was even higher, at 17% for adults and 26% for children and adolescents (2). Chocolate is popular for its sweet taste and smooth texture. The cocoa bean (Coffea arabica), is a plant with large, dark seeds that grow into the kernels found in chocolate. Cocoa beans are ground and then mixed with fat and milk to create chocolate. Chocolate contains compounds that may reduce appetite and increase satiety, making it an especially suitable choice for diabetics.
Cocoa and Chocolate: Nutritional Benefits
In general, chocolate can be good for you. Chocolate is a rich source of the following nutrients:
* Fatty acids
* Flavonoids, including theaflavins, thearubigins, and catechins
* Phenolic compounds
* Vitamins B6 and A
* Iron, magnesium, and potassium
More specifically, chocolate contains the following:
* Vitamin A and beta-carotene
* Vitamin B1, B6, and B12
* Zinc and selenium
* Copper, iron, and potassium
Cocoa: Health Benefits
The flavonoids in chocolate and cocoa are very powerful antioxidants. They may help protect you from heart disease, diabetes, and some types of cancer. They also may help lower blood pressure and cholesterol and slow the progression of cataracts. Flavonoids also protect against damage to the lining of the digestive system that occurs in inflammatory bowel disease. Chocolate also has antioxidants other than flavonoids, including polyphenols, carotenoids, and other nutrients.
Cocoa: Uses and Preparation
Chocolate contains fat, protein, and carbohydrates, as well as various other nutrients. But it also has a high amount of caffeine and some stimulants, particularly theobromine, which is found in cocoa beans. (See chapter 8 for information on caffeine and stimulants.)
To make chocolate, cocoa beans are ground and mixed with milk and sugar. Most people also add fats such as butter, coconut oil, or ghee. Sugar is then added to sweeten the chocolate. Some people, though, use cocoa and sugar in place of white sugar and butter or vegetable oil. Some people prefer to leave the fat out altogether and simply mix the cocoa and sugar. Cocoa is sold as pure cocoa or cocoa liquor.
Chocolate may be eaten as is or used in various recipes. In addition to eating chocolate for pleasure, many people find that eating cocoa powder can help them sleep better at night. Cocoa butter (a cocoa-flavored butter) is usually heated until it is liquid, then it can be used as a moisturizer or as an addition to foods.
Cocoa butter is very fatty, so be sure to use only a tiny amount in a dish if you are sensitive to fats. You may also be able to find it in an unscented form.
Chocolate may be used in baking and can even be ground and added to a drink or smoothie.
Carob, which is the dried, ground seeds of the carob tree, is generally used as a filler or substitute for chocolate in baked goods and desserts.
You will find cinnamon used as a flavoring in many recipes. The most common uses are to flavor and sweeten baked goods and the warming of tea. Cinnamon can be purchased either in sticks or in ground form. The stick of cinnamon is very small and can be difficult to work with. Ground cinnamon is more easily handled, but you must be careful not to eat too much of it.
## Coffee Beans
Coffee beans are ground and mixed with milk and sugar. Sugar is often added to coffee beans to sweeten the brew.
Coffee is the roasted, ground beans of the coffee plant. (You may have even heard that "coffee breaks" are taken in the workplace. This is actually a misnomer. "Coffee breaks" are not actually breaks at all, they are simply a period in which a worker can drink a cup of coffee. But I digress...)
Coffee is produced in many different parts of the world and can vary widely in its flavor. In general, strong coffee is brewed from roasted beans. The most popular types of coffee are made from the coffee tree, which is indigenous to South America.
### Coffee Pots
Coffee pots are made from ceramic and serve as a container for coffee and hot water. Coffee pots usually have a perforated spout that allows steam to escape while letting the coffee drip through. A filter is placed inside the pot and used to strain out any sediment.
Coffee pots can come in various shapes and sizes. The following is a listing of a few of the common sizes.
### Coffee Filters
Coffee filters are used to strain out the grounds after coffee is brewed. The most popular types of filters are made from paper, plastic, or cellulose. Paper filters are the cheapest, but the weakest. Cellulose filters are a lot more robust, and plastic ones can withstand the most abuse, but they are expensive.
Coffee filters have two general types of meshes. A simple mesh filters out fine particles, such as particles of coffee grounds. A finer mesh will catch larger particles.
As far as durability, filter paper filters will last a long time if they are stored properly. A large majority of coffee shops don't do a very good job of washing them, and if they are not cleaned often, they will become clogged and unusable. If you are buying a coffee filter, you will want to check that it is of good quality. As noted, paper filters are the cheapest, but in my experience they are the least durable. In fact, you will have to clean them more often because they are weaker than the