The Scientific Skinny on Chocolate and Chips

During Fourth of July revelry, which often includes overindulgence of saturated fatty acids (in burgers and sausages and other barbecue fare), it is easy to fall behind in the news.  In case you missed it, the esteeemed Journal of the American Medical Association reports today the results of a study at the University of Cologne, in Germany: the daily consumption of a little dark chocolate30 calories worth, the equivalent of one and a half Hershey’s Kisseslowered blood pressure a small but statistically significant amount (2.9 points for systolic pressure and 1.9 for diastolic).  Although the magnitude of the reduction is small, even a three-point decrease in systolic pressure correlates to an impressive eight-percent reduction in stroke mortality.  So now dark chocolate joins red wine as heart-healthy staples that should be consumed daily in mo0deration.  How sweet it is!

Also in food-science news is a fascinating piece in The New York Times by Harold McGee on crunchiness and crispness in potato chips.  Crunchiness is a sign of freshness.  The crunchy sound as you bit down on a chip is the breaking of potato cells made brittle from frying.  If the cells are moist at all, they lose their brittleness; the chip won’t sound crunchy and will taste stale.  The perfect chip, McGee argues, has the shape of a horse’s saddleas does the universe itself, according to recent cosmological thinkingbut saddle-shaped chips are unfortunately hard to find in the rough-and-tumble existence familiar to most bags of chips. 

Times taste testers who sampled nearly fifty brands of chips had a favorite: Kettle Brand Lightly Salted from Kettle Foods in Salem, Oregon.  “An assertive chip that looks darker than most but also delivers more potato aroma and tatse.  A pleasingly light, crisp texture.”

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