With Easter fast approaching I really wanted to find out whether there is such a thing as healthy chocolate. Surely not?
Well , in short, the answer is YES chocolate can be healthy, although not quite as simple as picking up the nearest chocolate bar, as it is the dark chocolate variety with a high source of cacao that packs a mean punch. Packed with healthy chemicals like flavonoids and theobromine, this little cacao bean is a fantastic healthy chocolate super food. The only problem is that cacao on its own is bitter, and chalky and so manufacturers combine it with milk, sugar and butter – which is great for the tastebuds but not so great for your health.
So the first tip for you to enjoy the health benefits of chocolate is to stick to dark chocolate with at least 70 percent cacao (or cocoa, which is cacao in its roasted, ground form). As long as the content is that high and in small amounts ( about four dark chocolate bars, a week) then some of the benefits range from improved healthy blood flow to stress reduction!
I have highlighted below some of the most important benefits of chocolate…. besides its taste…:)
A healthier heart: Small amounts of dark chocolate can cut your risk of heart attack because, like aspirin, chocolate has a biochemical effect that reduces the clumping of platelets, which causes the blood to clot. Eating dark chocolate may also prevent arteriosclerosis (hardening of the arteries).
A healthier brain: Dark chocolate increases blood flow to the brain as well as to the heart, so it can help improve cognitive function and also helps reduce your risk of a stroke. Lets also not forget the mood enhancing capabilities of dark chocolate. Chocolate contains phenylethylamine (PEA), the same chemical your brain creates when you feel like you’re falling in love. PEA encourages your brain to release endorphins, so eating dark chocolate will make you feel happier.
Healthier Skin: Dark chocolate helps you maintain healthy skin by modulating healthy blood flow. The flavonoids in the dark chocolate also provide protection against the harmful UV rays of the Sun. Its also worth mentioning that the antioxidants in chocolate help protect your skin keeping it soft, supple and younger for longer.
Healthier Blood Pressure: Dark chocolate is rich in minerals such as copper and magnesium which are responsible for keeping the blood pressure normal – especially for those people who suffer with high or low blood pressure.
Healthier Blood Sugar Levels: Dark chocolate helps keep your blood vessels healthy and your circulation tip top to protect against type 2 diabetes. The flavonoids in dark chocolate also help reduce insulin resistance by helping your cells to function normally and regain the ability to use your body’s insulin efficiently. Dark chocolate also has a low glycemic index, meaning it won’t cause huge spikes in blood sugar levels.
Weight Loss: Dark chocolate is far more filling than milk chocolate and reduces your appetite, in particular for sweet, salty, and fatty foods thus helping with weight loss.
Stress Reduction When times get tough, we tend to dip into the chocolate stash more often than we might otherwise and this is because eating a moderate amount of dark chocolate can help reduce the hormones in your body that make you feel stressed So – there you have it.
Plenty of reasons to tuck into a nice healthy 70% dark cacao chocolate bar this Easter without feeling the guilt! And for those that dont want to eat it, then check out Katie’s Beauty Blog on how you can make your own DIY chocolate face mask!