Chocolate has an undeserved reputation. Needlessly denigrated, it can actually make a healthy contribution to your diet. Yes, you should eat chocolate. Why? For starters, it’s full of vitamins, minerals and fibre. Want antioxidants? Find it in cocoa. Need something to calm your nerves? Count on the tryptophan in those (high-quality) squares of delicious cocoa.
Our aim in writing this article is to explain why your body may crave chocolate. We’ll also guide you toward the best way to include it in a nutritious diet. One caveat: reading this may lead to irresistible desire for rich, dark cacao. Don’t say we didn’t warn you!
Is it chocolate…or cocoa?
So confusing, isn’t it? When you’re desperate for chocolate, could it be that your body really wants cocoa? This is an important distinction, as cocoa is extremely healthy good. The fats and sugars that are added to most chocolate, however, are not – especially those in milky or white chocolate and those frozen confections that contain relatively little cocoa.
Here’s our first recommendation: choose the purest chocolate you can. You’ll want something that is at least 70% cocoa.
Have a look at this video on chocolate’s range of benefits. The video is currently only in Spanish but there should be subtitles. When you’ve let it all sink in, carry on reading for more about cacao’s curious composition.
The 7 Benefits of Eating Chocolate
You should cocoa…
At the risk of boring you to death, we’ve got to stress one thing: source quality cocoa powder – organic, if possible. There are so many things you can make with this cocoa. Need inspiration? Try these on for size:
- Cocoa and agave with almond milk (delicious hot or cold) is pure indulgence.
- Cocoa sponge cake will impress even the most fastidious guests.
- A banana, walnut and cocoa smoothie will kick-start any day the right way!
- Cocoa sauce, lemon juice and brown sugar substitutes for hot chocolate as a delicious garnish.
- Make a marvellous melted cream by mixing the cream from nuts (almonds or peanuts, for instance) with cocoa and brown sugar.
- Steep up a cocoa infusion for a relaxing, remineralising remedy.
Give your body what it lacks
Pure chocolate and cocoa have essential components for good health. This explains cravings that occasionally overcome you. In chocolate, you’ll find a magnificence of minerals, vitamins, fibre, antioxidants and tryptophan – all of which are good ways to justify giving in to some of the more persistent entreaties of your body.
Tryptophan, an amino acid that boosts serotonin production, is abundant in quality cocoa. You’re familiar with serotonin, right? It’s the infamous happiness neurotransmitter – which is why cocoa eases anxiety, eradicates irritability and lifts depression. When you’re feeling on edge, you’ll probably want to reach for the chocolate. Provided you’ve got a stash of organic stuff that has a high cocoa content, don’t hesitate. Do complement this quick fix by using other remedies or supplements to balance your mood.
Cocoa has more antioxidants than green tea. Surprised? Now, imagine combining the two? Sublime. Anyway, back to chocolate. Stress oxidises the body. The antioxidants present in cocoa can help to mitigate the effects of this stress and, in doing so, protect you from premature ageing. To best benefit from these astounding abilities, eat your deep, dark chocolate on an empty stomach.
Need a good source of magnesium? Who doesn’t? It’s a mineral that nourishes your nervous system and makes muscles. You need a daily does. In fact, therapists often recommend taking a supplement to ensure that you’re getting enough. Magnesium supplements can reduce your cravings for chocolate if you find that you’re eating too much of it.
Build blocks for bones and teeth
So much for milk. The question should be, ‘Got choccie?’ There’s loads of calcium in cocoa. It’s a great way to strengthen bones and teeth. Of course, if you don’t want cavities, here’s a caveat: try to use unsweetened cocoa and add your own natural sweeteners – and only if you find it absolutely necessary.
Raise those defences
Vitamin C is another of cocoa’s secret weapons. It’s another one that you need every day, too, as it stimulates your immune system. It also promotes healthy connective tissue and nourishes bones, teeth and skin. Who knew? Now, you can pamper yourself with a cup of hot chocolate without even a hint of guilt to ruin it.
Revitalise your life
Cocoa provides good, sustainable energy. When you’re down in the dumps or feeling lethargic, mix some unsweetened cocoa with agave nectar and cinnamon. Have a tablespoon every morning until you’re feeling rejuvenated.
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