by nourishment counselor and founder of Path for Life, Jeanette Bronée
Chocolate is not just for chocolate-lovers. It is also for those who seek a treat with health benefits. We all want and need something delicious to both nurture and nourish us, but when it comes to a treat we are often up against the choice between health and taste. Well, cocoa is one of those winning treats in both taste and health benefits.
Raw cocoa can boast many of the super-food attributes. The chocolate you choose to eat of course has to be as pure as possible to maintain these health benefits. The more sugar is in a chocolate bar, the less healthy it is. So any old candy bar will not do the trick. The core ingredients and the % of raw cocoa will tell you if your treat is really a nourishing treat or a mis-treat. Cocoa is a superfood because of its naturally occurring high essential nutrients, vitamins, minerals, and anti-oxidants.
Cacao goes back to the Aztecs who used the bean as a stimulant for energy and stamina. Cacao is also a mood enhancer as it affects our serotonin, endorphins and phenylethylamine. These are the same hormones the body releases in response to romance. Serotonin is our anti-depressant hormone, the one that makes us feel good, emotionally stabile and calm. Endorphins make us feel enthusiastic and powerful. No wonder we love chocolate so much.
The healthful choice of chocolate versus another treat like candy or cookies comes from the low sugar and high fat. This means the insulin levels are not spiked so even a diabetic can have some chocolate if it is high in cacao and low in added sugar. Chocolate has a high concentration of stearic acid, which is a saturated fatty acid that has been shown to have a neutral effect on cholesterol. This makes it a more heart healthy treat than other fatty food or sugary choices.
The high levels of antioxidants in cacao helps make this treat a healthier one. Anti-oxidants means anti-inflammation. Essential minerals such as potassium and magnesium, copper and potassium, the significant flavonoids, and several vitamins, including B1, B2, D, and E, are also present in cacao. Dairy can, however, interfere with the absorption of these, which is why only really dark chocolate with low sugar and no dairy offer the health benefits of raw cacao. When choosing a treat for health, the inherent properties of the raw materials are essential, and how they are preserved in the final product is crucial.
So choose your chocolate bar with utmost care – enjoy it with love, and let it be a nourishing treat, as an antidote to excess. A little taste goes a long way.