If you have ever stuffed your face with chocolate until you actually broke into a sweat then you know Easter is coming up! So I figured a bit of gentle discourse on the mystery and magic of chocolate would be in order.
Fact 1: Did you know that chocolate is the only ingredient that is its very own food group?
Okay that’s not actually true - but it seems as if it should be. Powerfully comforting, delicious, actually I’d go as far as to say pretty much irresitable – of all the treats, in all the world, chocolate is the one true love for me (am I alone here or what?).
Which begs the question...
Is chocolate good for you? The answer is both yes and no.
YES - Chocolate has been used for centuries to treat bronchitis, sexual malaise, fatigue, hangovers, anemia, depression, memory loss, high blood pressure, poor eyesight, and more (see the science at the end of this blog if you don’t believe me!*). It also helps release the feel-good neurotransmitter - serotonin - in the brain. You aren’t just imagining the way you feel after a delicious bite of top-quality dark chocolate - it makes you feel good!
NO - But all chocolate is not created equal! Eat the wrong kind and you’ll get loads of sugar, calories, and junky ingredients completely cancelling out all that goodness. I'm afraid the good guys aren't those old favourites like Cadbury's Dairy Milk, Toblerone or Snickers (did you know that Snickers is the world's favourite chocolate bar?!).
Tips for chocolate addicts
Chocolate begins life as raw cacao (pronounced kah-kow) beans. Loaded with antioxidants, minerals, vitamins, and plant phenols, cacao has often been described as one of the most powerful superfoods there is. The more processed cacao becomes, however (as in most commercially produced chocolate bars) the fewer healthy components remain.
So how to get the most out of your chocolate fix?
- Don’t be afraid of the dark. The darker the chocolate, the more beneficial cacao it contains (all those studies below refer to dark chocolate, so don’t get confused and go on a sugar eating rampage!).
- Know your percentages: the number on dark chocolate packaging refers to the percentage of cacao bean in chocolate. For maximum health benefit, look for dark chocolate that has 75% to 85% cacao. A great option you can pick up easily in your local supermarket is Green and Black’s Organic Dark Chocolate 85% (they also have a 70% option which might be a nice bridge from the milk to the dark if 85% seems to scary!)
- Try raw chocolate - or as unprocessed as possible.
Less is more when it comes to the good stuff. Go for top quality - you may baulk at the price, but the taste is worth it (and so are you!), then when you eat it, sit down, stop reading/watching/listening to anything else and just suck on that bad boy until its all gone!
You will find that just one piece of the most decadent top quality dark chocolate is all you need to feel satiated. (Ok realistically its probably 2, but you might be surprized about how satisfied you feel!).
So this Easter avoid the sweats and go for a little guilt free gorgeousness in the darkest best quality chocolate you can find – get your orders in now with loved ones! (Also check out my recipe for Scrumptious Lunch-box Balls for kids and adults alike made with cacao).
If this has got you curious about how to choose chocolate - and other delicious super foods - to keep you healthy (and your taste buds happy)! Let’s talk! Schedule a complimentary health coaching consultation with me today—or pass this offer on to someone you care about!
*Here are just a few studies into the benefits of dark chocolate:
- The potential benefits of eating chocolate are said to include: lowering cholesterol levels, preventing cognitive decline, and reducing the risk of cardiovascular problems. A study in Germany this year found that about a square of dark chocolate a day lowered blood pressure and reduced risk of heart attack and stroke by 39 percent. Most of the credit goes to flavonoids, antioxidant compounds that increase the flexibility of veins and arteries.
- The lead researcher at the University of L'Aquila in Italy says the flavonoids in chocolate increase nitric oxide production and that helps control insulin sensitivity.
- A study found the theobromine found in chocolate quieted coughs almost as well as codeine and without the negative side effects of drowsiness. This chemical, responsible for chocolate's feel-good effect, may suppress activity in a part of the brain called the vagus nerve.
- Canadian scientists carried out a study involving 44,489 people and found that people eating chocolate were 22% less likely to suffer a stroke than those who didn't. In addition, those who had a stroke but regularly consumed chocolate were 46 percent less likely to die as a result.
- Swiss scientists found that when very anxious people ate an ounce and a half of dark chocolate every day for two weeks, their stress hormone levels were significantly reduced and the metabolic effects of stress were partially mitigated.
- There is also evidence of chocolate polyphenols having some anti-inflammatory properties
- Both South American and European cultures have a history that dates back to the 16th century of treating diarrhea with cacao. Scientists at the Children's Hospital Oakland Research Institute found that cacao flavonoids bind to a protein that regulates fluid secretion in the small intestine, potentially stopping diarrhea.
- The University of Copenhagen found that dark chocolate is far more filling, offering more of a feeling of satiety than milk chocolate. That is, dark chocolate lessens cravings for sweet, salty, and fatty foods.
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Health coach, Mindfulness teacher, Mother, Bee Pollen consumer. "You want health? Well, health costs, and right here is where you start paying in sweat" (tee hee - actually its really rather pleasurable and fun!)