Antidote Blog: bean to bar

the Sweet Significance of Licorice in Antidote 🤩 😍

By Red Thalhammer

the Sweet Significance of Licorice in Antidote  🤩 😍

Why is this bar so addictive? It's really dark but without any bitterness, brimming with a citric double dose of lemon, intense floral cacao and sweet licorice root. I have been exploring licorice for over a year in my baking with many kinds from various sources. It was my fabulous secret ingredient! Now, the secret is in Antidote. However, just like with cacao beans, the differences in flavor and quality on licorice are as far apart as 0 and 100. That extreme.

As always, our mantra is flavor finds efficacy.  😋 While I choose the licorice for its aroma, I'm as excited to share that in Ayurvedic tradition, it is a healthful powerhouse, often called the "Healer's Root." With its extensive health benefits and unique characteristics, this extraordinary root is a key player within Ayurvedic medicine.

“Licorice is a versatile plant long cherished for its many therapeutic properties. This potent herb is celebrated for its rejuvenating properties, serving as a brain tonic and offering a shield against life's inevitable wear and tear. It also fortifies immunity, enhances skin complexion, any much more” This from a Kerala Ayurveda Blog. However just want to clarify that the dose in Antidote is small and not intended to heal or treat anything.

Maybe the combination of all makes it so magic? I would love to hear what you think! Supply is limited with LOLA (her name), so take your chance! (and find a little story on LOLA on the back)

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9 PROVEN BENEFITS OF DARK CHOCOLATE

By Red Thalhammer

BENEFITS OF DARK CHOCOLATE

This article is from Be Brain Fit.

https://bebrainfit.com/benefits-dark-chocolate/

Last updated May 8, 2023.
Edited and medically reviewed by Patrick Alban, DC. Written by Deane Alban.

To keep the Article intact, Antidote has only added 3 comments in brackets starting with *1 where we wanted to add Antidote and maker insights.

Dark chocolate boosts mood, protects the brain, improves memory and focus & more. Learn the benefits of cacao nibs and how to choose good dark chocolate.

“All you need is love. But a little chocolate now and then doesn’t hurt.”
— Charles M. Schulz

The world loves chocolate.

Every year, we eat over 100 billion dollars worth of it!

We love chocolate not just because of the way it tastes.

We love it because of the way it makes us feel.

Chocolate is an enormously complex food containing over 1,500 biochemicals

Several of these are known to positively impact mood and brain health and function, which is why you’ll find dark chocolate on any list of top brain foods.

It’s rare that something so delicious is also healthy, but dark chocolate is an exception to the rule.

Here are 9 proven brain benefits of eating dark chocolate.

 

1. EATING DARK CHOCOLATE CAN MAKE YOU HAPPY

Dark chocolate boosts the production of feel-good chemicals called endorphins

Endorphins bind with opiate receptors in the brain, leading to feelings of euphoria, like the kind joggers get from “runner’s high.”

They also reduce pain and diminish the negative effects of stress

Chocolate is a good source of tryptophan, an amino acid precursor to serotonin, the neurotransmitter of happiness and positive mood.

Chocolate is the main food source of anandamide, a naturally occurring compound called the “bliss molecule.”

Related on Be Brain Fit —

Anandamide: Bliss Molecule for Happiness & Mental Balance

This neurotransmitter is very similar to THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), the primary psychoactive component in marijuana. 

Dark chocolate also contains phenylethylamine, a compound called the “love drug” because it creates a brain buzz similar to being in love. 

Theobromine, a caffeine-related compound that’s found in chocolate, is thought to make chocolate a mild aphrodisiac. 

And finally, chocolate increases levels of dopamine, an important neurotransmitter critical for positive mood. 

 

2. DARK CHOCOLATE IMPROVES BLOOD FLOW TO THE BRAIN

Compounds in dark chocolate boost memory, attention span, reaction time, and problem-solving skills by increasing blood flow to the brain

The flavonoids in chocolate have been shown to improve blood flow to the brain in young and old alike.

In one study, a single dose of cocoa rich in flavanols (the main flavonoids found in cocoa and chocolate) caused a measurable increase in cerebral blood flow in healthy, young adults. 

[Discover the many ways that our modern lifestyle diminishes blood circulation to the brain.]

Another study found that drinking two cups of hot chocolate increased blood flow to the brain for 2-3 hours.

 

3. ANTIOXIDANTS IN CHOCOLATE NEUTRALIZE FREE RADICAL DAMAGE

The brain uses a lot of oxygen, about 20% of the body’s total intake.

This makes the  brain susceptible to free radical damage.

Free radicals are unattached oxygen molecules that attack cells in much the same way that oxygen attacks metal, causing it to rust.

If you’ve ever seen a sliced apple or avocado turn brown, you’ve seen free radical damage at work.

Wrinkles, age spots, and sun damage on your skin are visible signs of free radical damage.

The same process is going on inside your brain.

Antioxidants protect brain cells by neutralizing free radical damage and preventing premature brain cell aging.

When tested against coffee and tea, cocoa powder drink exhibited more antioxidant activity than green tea, but less than coffee. 

 

4. DARK CHOCOLATE IMPROVES LEARNING, MEMORY, AND FOCUS

Cocoa’s flavonoids enter the brain and accumulate in regions involved in learning and memory, especially the hippocampus. 

Seniors who consume foods high in flavonoids, including chocolate, score better on standardized cognitive tests

Chocolate also contains some caffeine, a known brain booster that, in low doses, improves both mental and physical performance

" Chocolate is an enormously complex food containing over 1,500 biochemicals. 

Caffeine in a normal-size serving of chocolate is relatively low compared to tea and, especially, coffee.

So eating chocolate in moderation probably won’t contain enough caffeine to make you feel wired or keep you awake at night.

 

5. MAGNESIUM FOUND IN DARK CHOCOLATE RELIEVES STRESS

Magnesium is an essential dietary mineral that is so good for anxiety and stress that it’s been called “nature’s Valium.”

It can help reduce stress by suppressing the release of the stress hormone cortisol

Getting more magnesium in your diet can improve memory, focus, mood, sleep, and resilience to stress. 

Related on Be Brain Fit —

How Magnesium Relieves Anxiety & Stress (detailed guide)

Magnesium is largely missing from the modern diet, but chocolate contains a substantial amount of it. 

Cocoa solids contain more magnesium per gram than almost any other food. 

 It’s suspected that people who crave chocolate might be deficient in magnesium.

 

6. DARK CHOCOLATE HELPS CONTROL FOOD CRAVINGS

Chocolate is the most widely craved food

But indulging in cheap, mass-produced milk chocolate doesn’t reduce cravings.

In fact, it fuels them (because of the sugar that’s in milk chocolate).

On the other hand, high-quality dark chocolate is extremely satisfying, so you should find that you’re satisfied eating less of it.

Eating a little dark chocolate has been shown to reduce cravings for junk food of all kinds — sweet, salty, and fatty. 

Consequently, it can help you make healthy food choices and lose weight.

Is all this satisfaction due to chocolate’s unique profile of phytochemicals?

Or is there a psychological aspect to our love affair with chocolate?

Interestingly, it seems that the sensory experience of eating dark chocolate is an important part of its ability to satisfy cravings.

When scientists put the beneficial ingredients of chocolate in a pill, it did not have the same appetite-suppressing effect. 

 

7. DARK CHOCOLATE PROTECTS YOUR BRAIN FOR A LIFETIME

There have been many exciting findings regarding chocolate’s use in treating brain-related medical conditions like strokes and dementia.

The consumption of flavonoid-rich foods like cocoa may potentially limit, prevent, or reverse age-related brain deterioration

The powerful antioxidants found in dark chocolate reduce the risk of dementia.

In one study, the more chocolate seniors ate, the less likely they were to develop dementia

Chocolate’s flavanols improved cognition in seniors diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment (MCI). 

Dark chocolate has been found to decrease insulin resistance.

This is significant because many experts believe Alzheimer’s is a disease of insulin resistance, a form of diabetes of the brain. 

When brain cells become insulin-resistant, they don’t get the glucose they need, and subsequently die.

 

8. DARK CHOCOLATE SUPPORTS GOOD GUT BACTERIA

One of the most unusual health benefits of dark chocolate is that it increases beneficial bacteria in your intestines.

And oddly, this is good news for your brain!

Lactobacilli and Bifidobacteria are two of the most prevalent strains of “good” bacteria in your gut and are found in most probiotic supplements.

Related on Be Brain Fit —

Psychobiotics: Use the Gut-Brain Connection for Mental Health

They act as antioxidants, protecting the brain from free radical damage

Chocolate also acts as a prebiotic, keeping good bacteria levels high and “bad” bacteria in check.

An overabundance of bad bacteria can lower levels of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF). 

This important brain chemical is essential for keeping existing brain cells healthy and stimulating the formation of new brain cells.

 

9. EATING DARK CHOCOLATE CAN MAKE YOU SMARTER

You’ve already seen that eating dark chocolate can improve your ability to learn, focus, and remember.

One study reports that the more chocolate a country consumes, the more Nobel Prize winners it has!

While this may sound like a joke, the study was published in the New England Journal of Medicine, a prestigious organization not known for pranks.

In all seriousness though, eating quality chocolate has been shown to be neuroprotective and to enhance brain plasticity, a trait that’s linked to increased intelligence. 

 

HOW TO GET MAXIMUM BRAIN BENEFITS FROM CHOCOLATE

To get the maximum brain benefits from chocolate, the darker the chocolate, the better it is for you.

Compared to milk chocolate, dark chocolate contains more of the things that are good for you, like flavonoids and antioxidants, and less of the things that aren’t, like sugar. *1 (Antidote Milk chocolate bars are very low in sugar and do not compare with other milk chocolate bars)

It’s thought that the dairy in milk chocolate could interfere with flavonoid absorption, but, so far, studies have been inconclusive

WHAT THE NUMBERS ON DARK CHOCOLATE LABELS MEAN

When you see a number like 70% on a bar of dark chocolate, this indicates the total percentage of everything derived from the cocoa bean — chocolate liquor, cocoa butter, and cocoa powder.

In general, 70% is a good minimum to start for any significant health benefits.

Like many of the finer things in life, eating very dark chocolate can be an acquired taste. 

Note: The terms cacao and cocoa are often used interchangeably on labels. Technically, cacao is the name of the bean from which chocolate is made. Cocoa refers to the processed final product. 

SHOULD YOU BUY ORGANIC DARK CHOCOLATE?

I’ve seen several websites mention that cacao is heavily sprayed with pesticides, making it one of the most chemical-laden food crops.

But I haven’t found any reliable data to back this up or to examine how much of a health concern this is for the consumer.

However, organic is usually a good indicator of overall quality.

*2 (Knowing how Antidote farmers care for their cacao we can’t confirm that. However Antidote uses organic when possible. Antidote chooses not to buy organic cacao in order to get the best possible quality for flavor and purity) 

Related on Be Brain Fit —

50 Yummy & Healthy Brain Food Recipes

Truly healthy dark chocolate will contain only a handful of ingredients.

Besides cocoa, it will contain a sweetener and not much else.

It won’t contain high fructose corn syrup, chemical additives, emulsifiers, partially hydrogenated oil, artificial color or flavoring, or any other artificial ingredients.

Additionally, you may notice the words “fair trade” on chocolate labels.

Fair Trade certification ensures that farmers receive a fair price and that no slave or child labor was used. 

*3 (Antidote as well as many other bean-to-bar makers choose Direct Trade over Fair Trade as purchasing cacao directly from the famers creates a much bigger impact and higher profits for farmers)

 

BRAIN BENEFITS OF DARK CHOCOLATE: TAKE THE NEXT STEP

Dark chocolate truly deserves the term “brain food.”

It can improve overall brain health, focus, and concentration, and even make you happier.

It protects the brain from aging and oxidation, and helps to keep it fit and fully functioning.

To get the most mental health benefits, choose the darkest chocolate that you enjoy.

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What Makes It Taste So Good?

By Red Thalhammer

What Makes chocolate Taste So Good

Here at Antidote, we say that the true name for chocolate is sharing the flavors AND it’s incredible benefits with the world. So what elevates Antidote and separates it from the crowd? We’re here to tell you! 

High on Cacao, Low on Sugar 

We believe in decadent taste with powerful nutrients, which means high cacao content and low sugar. It's delicious, powerful and guilt-free. Our top priority is full flavor with preserving the power of the bean and preserving antioxidants like flavonols and magnesium.

Direct Trade Relationships with Farmer Co-Operatives 

Direct trade means no middleman – we order from co-operatives and other farmers directly to their conditions. Knowing each other face to face makes it all more gratifying and creates a higher level of accountability between us. Because we rely on them to deliver the highest quality and to receive our cacao in time as most of the cacao we order is custom prepared for Antidote!

High Attention to Detail 

The magic and the devil is in the details!  And in chocolate making there are so many ways to mess up in every step – from the bean to the bar. 🍫 That means we are constantly obsessing over things that most of you won’t notice but that’s what it takes! From perfecting flavors to making engaging packaging we love diving into the details! 

Only whole and pure ingredients 

One of the main Antidote pinnacles  🌿 Because whole and unadulterated quality ingredients have the best flavor and nutrition. Whether it’s cacao, sugar, spices… That is why we rather use whole cane sugar than sugar alternatives, bits and pieces of real spices rather than essential oils. All in respect to depth of flavor and the power of nutrients from whole ingredients.

We create, develop, and innovate 

Differentiation and new ideas is what makes this fun! Taking pride in creating, and innovating original flavors, packaging and processes. Antidote was born with the principles in mind that chocolate is a delicious and fun mood booster, stress lifter and energizer. As a creative, I thrive on ideas and then become obsessed – like in the case of Antidote. That’s how it started!

Little cacao butter added, the power is in the beans! 

Beans naturally consist of approximately 50% cacao butter. 🌿We keep added cacao butter very low for two reasons: A full and rich cacao aroma and for the power and cacao benefits. Trust your tastebuds! The benefits are in the whole beans, and not in the cacao butter!! 

Our flavors are created with time and perfected over time. 

We are all about flavor. We can spend up to two years at times to create a flavor and to find the perfect complementing flavor pairing. Using real chunks of fruits and spices – from coffee to mango and juniper berries. Choosing ingredients with precision and working closely with our Ecuadorian partners to perfect every stage of our ingredients preparation and production process! 

chocolate taste good delicious sustainable

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LESS IS MORE OR MORE IS LESS?

By Red Thalhammer

LESS IS MORE OR MORE IS LESS?

We often make food decisions based on price, but if we look deeper to understand the difference between a lower and higher cost product, there is so much more value when we invest a little more for pure quality products. It is also important to note that a high price alone does not always represent true quality!!!  There are multiple elements to consider.

One for instance, our Japanese distribution partner recently asked if we had changed the beans in our 84% bars as the flavor seems a bit stronger than usual. Welcome to a pure product that is not masked with sugar and relies on the raw ingredients from farmers. There are rainy seasons with little sun that affect the flavor profile of the beans. We try to keep the flavor very consistent, although there is always the chance of slight alterations in each batch, much like wines and their respective years.

To explore these aspects of quality further, let’s review what you pay for when you buy an Antidote or any consciously produced product: 

  1. Fresh high quality ingredients that provide more nutrients and contain less sugar and no fillers
  2. Direct trade with farmers who are paid a fare price for their quality, above and beyond the world trade price
  3. Profits that go to real people
  4. Slight changes in flavor due to the nature of an agricultural product

And what you get: 

  • Potency and high flavor, allowing gratification with smaller portions
  • Purity and nutrients for vitality and energy 
  • A healthy supply chain and environment through conscious practices such as direct trade 

Now compare this to what you pay for on a mass market packaged item from a major corporation that costs half or a third of Antidote or any high quality product.

  1. Lower grade ingredients and lots of sugar, fat or fillers
  2. Exploitation of people and environmental damages 
  3. Profits that go to already rich shareholders
  4. Extremely consistent flavor with the help of additives

And what you get:

  • Exposure to more fat, sugar or salt that promotes over eating
  • Lack of nutrients negatively impact your health
  • Contributing to damaging or exploitative farming and environmental practices
Now this is a very concise overview but you get the picture. Investing in premium products go well beyond our own benefit, as our spending also supports the effects each company has on their employees, our environment and overall health. Thanks for choosing quality as we believe you are getting more for your buck! Do you agree?

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