When most people think about “health foods” the color green usually comes to mind, accompanied by a substantial creative effort to make food taste good.
And then there’s chocolate…
A food that is so naturally delicious and diverse that it feels like a guilty pleasure, but it isn’t.
When it contains high cocoa content and is consumed in moderation, chocolate can have immense health benefits, so we can indulge our sweet tooth and rest assured knowing we’re still nourishing our bodies.
The quality caveat is a big one though, since many chocolates are highly processed. Be sure to check the label and look for dark chocolate that contains at least 70% cacao, has as few other ingredients as possible, and is low in sugar. When consuming high quality chocolate, studies have shown that you may experience health benefits like these:
Improved blood flow and circulation
Lower blood pressure
Increased HDL and decreased LDL cholesterol
Lower risk of cardiovascular disease
Skin protection from sun damage
Improved brain function
Reduced risk of stroke
Less unhealthy cravings
Lower risk of diabetes
Mental clarity and alertness
Not bad for something that tastes so good, right? The reason for such an array of benefits is an impressive combination of powerful antioxidants, healthy fats, minerals, and other micro-nutrients that create a positive effect on our biochemical makeup.
Health Coach Tip: Boost the benefits of chocolate by combining it with other superfoods like goji berries, maca, spirulina, nuts, or seeds. You can find pre-combined flavors, or make your own chocolate bark by purchasing raw chocolate in bulk, melting it down in a double broiler, and then spreading it out on wax paper over a cookie sheet and sprinkling your bonus ingredients on top before popping it in the fridge overnight. In the morning, break it up into pieces and keep it in the fridge or freezer. It makes a great potluck dessert!
What’s your favorite way to eat chocolate? Share in the comments below!