Imagine if every time you ate a piece of chocolate it was for its health benefits and not for its delicious flavor. Or better yet, imagine how much more satisfying it would be to eat chocolate and be able to enjoy both its delicious flavor and it’s added health benefits! Sounds utopic right? Well in fact, it’s realer than real.
Eating chocolate can have incredibly powerful, all around, health benefits. It’s good for the heart, for energy levels, for vision, memory, appetite control, increases mood, supports the nervous system and beyond. But what’s the catch? As far as chocolate is concerned, there is none. What might be of concern are the additional ingredients that are added into your chocolate of choice.
A Brief Background on our Beloved Chocolate
Chocolate dates as far back as 2000 BC, in Central America where the ancient Mayans had their own special recipe for the consumption of chocolate. There are even traces of chocolate consumption in the ancient Olmecs of southern Mexico, which some say, predates the Mayans. The Aztecs used cocoa beans as a beverage but also as a form of currency. Back then however, it was enjoyed for its sharp and bitter tastes, sweeteners came much later on, in the 1500’s, when the cacao bean made its way into Europe.
The Cacao tree is native to Central and South America. Pods grow on the Cocoa tree and contain an abundance of cacao beans which are dried, roasted and deshelled to extract the nibs. The nibs are grounded into chocolate liquor, where the cocoa butter is removed and set aside. Then the magic begins.
Health Benefits of Chocolate
Dark chocolate is loaded with iron, zinc, copper, magnesium, phosphorus, B12, potassium, calcium, and flavonols. But what do all of these vitamins and minerals do for us?
Beneficial for the heart
The stearic acid found in dark chocolate can reduce the possibility of heart attacks, and can reduce the LDL cholesterol levels (what’s known as the ‘bad’ cholesterol). While it’s busy reducing LDL levels it can increase HDL cholesterol levels (yup, you guessed it, the ‘good’ cholesterol.) The flavonoids contain antioxidant properties which reduce inflammation of the arteries, and promote healthy blood circulation throughout the body.
Increases Energy Levels, Decreases Stress Levels and Stand-In as an Antidepressant
There are small traces of caffeine and theobromine (natural stimulants) found in dark chocolate, which makes it a great mid-day snack, acting as a gentle upper. Furthermore, studies show that an increase in flavanol foods in one’s diet can greatly improve moods and curb depression. The essential amino acid, tryptophan, elevates the production of serotonin, a hormone which can help alleviate stress.
Improves Vision and Intelligence
Dark chocolate, not the stuff that has added milk and loads of sugar, but dark chocolate can boost the blood flow to the brain, which aids in memory retention and concentration. While it’s increasing blood flow to the heart and brain, it’s also believed to improve blood flow to the retina. This increased blood flow has the power to improve vision.
Repairs Damage Caused by Free Radicals in the Environment
The antioxidants found in dark chocolate are said to protect the cells from free radical damage. Toxins enter our bodies through the air we breathe, especially those of us living near cities or near industrialized regions. They can also be found on the surfaces of the fruits and vegetables we eat, and in the products we use. But when we eat an antioxidant rich diet, we can protect our cells from free radical damage.
Anti-aging and Sun Protection
No one’s suggesting you smear melted dark chocolate all over your skin, but many people do make their own cacao face masks with raw organic honey and other vitalizing ingredients to hydrate the skin. Cocoa can also reduce the damage caused by harmful UV rays on the skin.
You now have a very valid excuse to eat chocolate daily! Eating the right chocolate has the power to curb your appetite, alleviate that sweet tooth, improve blood pressure, reduce stress and plenty more!
We recommend adding dark chocolate chips to your trail mix, or as your mid day snack. It won't only improve cognition, eyesight and energy levels, but it will also improve your mood throughout the day!