Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Post RWA15: Chocolate, Your Sweet Tooth and Chromium

Remember last week when I posted about that darn sweet tooth of mine and lamented (not really) heading into RWA where I would be served dessert after dessert after dessert?

You saw all the yummy dessert pictures in Mindy's post yesterday and I'm sure Missy has some coming up so I won't taunt you with any - yet.

Actually, I'm not just being nice. I was too busy enjoying myself to even remember to take pictures!

I noticed something with all those sweets though - many of them were dark chocolate and I found myself not eating all that much of them. It wasn't because they didn't taste good. They were sinfully delicious. But they were filling. A few bites satisfied that nasty sweet tooth.

I'm borrowing Tina's pictures from Death by Chocolate.

I got to wondering why I couldn't eat more than a few bites of each. So I did what any good writer would do  -  research!

In this case, the research was a bit of tying together what I had read in several different places. Several years ago, I read a really interesting article indicating that perhaps a chromium deficiency was responsible for people's cravings for sugar.

When I went to look for that article to write this post, I came across some other articles that tied it all together. Bear with me for the science part. I promise there is a payoff.

According to the article:
Chromium is a factor in blood sugar and cholesterol regulation, and is necessary for the metabolism of fats, proteins and carbohydrates. Low chromium levels can thus lead to elevated blood sugar, cholesterol and triglycerides, or blood fats, explains the University of Maryland Medical Center. This raises the risk for disorders such as diabetes and heart disease.

I've read that between 80 - 90% of Americans are deficient in Chromium. That same article included this sentence: "Eating large amounts of simple sugars also can lead to chromium deficiency."

*insert heavy sigh*

Even my sugar befuddled brain can see the Catch 22 here. Lack of chromium makes you crave sugar, but too much sugar leads to a chromium deficiency.

So, a little knowledge is good, right? But what can we do with that knowledge to interrupt this vicious sugar cycle?

This is where it gets good.   

 A little more research yielded this good news:

All chocolate is made from the raw cacao bean! Cacao is the seed of a fruit of an Amazonian tree that was brought to Central America during or before the time of the Olmecs. Cacao beans were so revered by the Mayans and Aztecs that they used them as money!

Okay, I knew that, but did you know that cacao contains chromium?

Okay, bad news - I have to give a little disclaimer. My research also yielded this article that cautions that eating products made with cacao will not help you lose weight or be healthy because of all the other things in the treats. She says to beware of misleading claims and I certainly don't want to mislead my Yankee Bell pals. 

So, what do we take away from this - 

In my opinion - moderation in all things is good. If I can snack on a bit of dark chocolate and that will keep me from running to the freezer or cupboard all night in search of ice cream or cookies or candy, then it IS a good thing and not at all misleading.

So what can we eat that will give us the taste we crave without the bad stuff?

Well. there are cacao nibs. 

 But we can drink it too. Remember the post Jan Drexler did back in 2013 Not Your Children's Hot Chocolate. See, Jan was onto something!  

But if you're not a fan of chocolate, according to this article by Emilia Klapp on ShareCare:
There are small amounts of chromium in most foods. However, dark chocolate (made with a high proportion of cocoa) is rich in chromium, carrying roughly 10 times the amount of the chromium in whole grains. Whole-grain products still are excellent sources of chromium, as are:
  • Beef and calves’ liver
  • Chicken and eggs
  • Fish and seafood
  • Dairy products
  • Walnuts
  • Lettuce, broccoli, onions, and apples
  • Potatoes with skin
  • Brewer’s yeast

So what do you think? 

I'm going to try this experiment and see if eating a bit of dark chocolate or cacao can fend off that sweet tooth. I'll let you know how it works out.  In the meantime, I'd love to hear experiences anyone else has had.


  1. Interesting! I've never had a sweet tooth, but I started craving sugar about two years ago. It was weird. Almost 40 years without a sweet tooth and then I was searching the back of pantry for cookies? A friend of mine is a firm believe in the evils of white sugar so I wondered if I'd become addicted to the tsp or so I put in my coffee. I cut out sugar completely for a while... and the cravings went away.
    I still use white sugar in my coffee but it never crave sweets. Maybe it was a chromium deficiency? Hmmm... I also take several multivitamins that contain chromium.

    1. That's really interesting, Virginia.

      One reason I've always loved giving up candy for Lent was that by the time Lent was over, I'd lost my craving for it. I guess that Catholic guilt thing about not breaking my resolution was strong enough to overcome the initial cravings.

  2. I keep a bag of Ghirardelli 60% cacao chocolate chips in the cupboard, and not just for cookies! They're perfect for those times when I want to kill someone... KIDDING!

    For when I NEED something amazing that isn't going to tip my carbs into the stratosphere.

    And I make a "bark" with it, with salted nuts... a little piece of bark makes me feel like I'm eating decadent candy, and it's totally within the realm of healthy.

    I'll post it tomorrow!

    1. I'm really looking forward to that recipe tomorrow, Ruthy. I love nut bark.

      I saw recipes for some protein shakes that are made with cacao nibs. Maybe I'll experiment with some of those.

  3. Virginia and I commented together!!!! Pinky swear!

  4. Very interesting stuff, Mary Cate. I know that I used to crave sweets. That was the hardest thing when I started Trim Healthy Mama, getting off of the sugar. Made me realize two things--that I was addicted and that sugar craves sugar. The more I ate, the more I wanted/needed.
    For the most part, I'm able to keep that craving in check now. Though that doesn't mean I didn't splurge at RWA. But I got back on track as soon as I got home. Though, like Ruthy, I'll often have a few 60% chips with my almonds. Just not the whole bag. 😉

    1. Mindy, I love chocolate and almonds. I've been trying a square or two of dark chocolate with my handful of almonds when I'm writing.

      Fondly remembering those chocolate dusted almonds from the trade show room.

  5. Ha ha ha ha. Good luck with that. If it works though, let us know. Never did for me. The only thing that 80% chocolate does for me is ward off a caffeine headache. And gives me a zip when competing in pickleball. Otherwise nope. Doesn't work to end cravings. For me anyway.

    1. Says she who corrupted me with a gift card for Sees chocolate!!!!!

      I'll let you know, Sandra. I was going to head to the store for the nibs, but we had a blackout in the neighborhood and that store has no power today. Not good.

  6. Makes total sense to me! Thanks for sharing that nugget of info, Mary/Cate! Very interesting.

    Actually, I didn't get many food photos this year! I remembered late in the game, after trays of food were emptying. :)

    1. That was me, Missy. I totally didn't think to take pictures. And I even brought a small camera so I wouldn't have to take my iPad everywhere.

      I have lots of lovely mental images though. :)

  7. Rats -- should have read this before I chowed down on some frozen cookie dough. LOL I've heard lots of good things about dark chocolate. I know when I worked full time a few squares of dark chocolate around three really brought me out of that sleepy late afternoon slump. And I didn't crave eating the whole bar the way I did if I ate a kitkat or something.

    1. I'm glad to hear that helped with you, Kav. You're right. If I ear a KitKat or something like that, I want more and more.

      My main problem is I love milk chocolate and don't love dark chocolate. But if I can learn to accept it as a substitute, then the not loving will be good. :)