Chocolate lovers beware! This article is about to change your life.
What if we could tell you that chocolate is nourishing and beneficial? Read on as we review the facts and myths. We promise that you won’t look at chocolate in the same way ever again!
WHAT IS CHOCOLATE ?
Before we begin, let’s take a look at where it all began.
The main ingredient of chocolate, cocoa, originated in Mexico and was known as the Food of Gods by the Aztecs, Mayas and Incas. It wasn’t until Mr. Columbus himself mixed cocoa with vanilla and sugar that it became the first form of chocolate. It was then served as an aphrodisiac beverage to wealthy and powerful Europeans. Soon solidified into chocolate as we know it today, the quality of pure cocoa was manipulated further during World War 1 where US troops realized it had nutritional benefits, and they needed to ration their bars during battle.
WHY IS CHOCOLATE GOOD FOR YOU ?
Chocolate contains monounsaturated and saturated fats, dietary potassium fiber, magnesium, potassium, copper, calcium, iron and polyphenols (antioxidants). In fact, chocolate has more phenolic antioxidants than most of the foods that we consume today.
PREMENSTRUAL SYDNDROME (PMS)
Due to its high concentrations of magnesium (100mg in 100g of chocolate and 520mg/ 100g of pure cocoa powder), chocolate can help combat PMS symptoms as our magnesium levels decrease during our menstrual cycle. Women need between 310 -320mg of magnesium a day. This means chocolate is a great source for boosting levels. This may also explain why we reach for chocolate during our time of the month!
Many studies have found that eating chocolate can protect your skin from UV light. Applying cocoa to your skin for a minimum of 5 days will also improve skin tone and elasticity. This is also the reason why cocoa butter is a frequent ingredient in our skin moisturizers!
MOOD AND COGNITIVE FUNCTION
Chocolate has been found to have a range of effects on mood and cognitive functions. One study discovered that just 30 days of consumption will improve calmness and feelings of contentment. Chocolate can also stimulate feelings of euphoria.
Your brain will also perform better if you consume chocolate. A significant study has found that countries with the highest chocolate consumers have also produced the most Nobel prize winners.
Eating chocolate 15 minutes before exercise will enhance your performance, delay fatigue and assist with glycogen repletion Combing cocoa powder with milk has even more effects on exercise performance as it increases skeletal muscle protein turnover, especially if consumed after a workout session. Try our recipe below after your next session!
Chocolate milk recipe
One heaped teaspoon of pure cocoa power
One teaspoon of sweetener of your choice (I like honey)
250ml of milk of your choice
Directions. Make a chocolate paste by combining a little bit of hot water with the cocoa power and sweetener. Add the milk and stir. Add some ice cubes for a really refreshing post workout drink!
Chocolate can also reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure and stroke. It can also be used as therapy for inflammation, immune dysfunction, autoimmune diseases, allergies and anxiety.
WHY DOES CHOCOLATE GET A BAD REPUTATION ?
Chocolate as we know it today is made by drying, roasting, crushing and pressing fermented cacao seeds into cocoa powder and mixing it with milk, sugar and cacao butter. The more processed the chocolate the more it loses its nutrients. Processing can see the phenolic antioxidants reduce from 100% to just 10%. Dark chocolate mostly contains 50% cocoa, commercially produced milk chocolate contains 10%, and white chocolate doesn’t have any cocoa solids at all.
Chocolate also contains caffeine and if consumed in large doses it can be toxic. However, you would need to consume over 50kg of chocolate for it to have any serious effects!
WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR CHOCOLATE LOVERS ?
Choosing dark chocolate over milk and white varieties is the most nutrient dense option. Research suggests that 40-100g of dark chocolate per day is the most advantageous for our health and can provide 200-500mg of phenolic antioxidants.
It is important to make sure you are storing your chocolate properly before consumption. Australia’s oldest family owned chocolate company Haigh’s suggests to store your chocolate in a cool dry cupboard away from any heat, light, strong spices and at temperature between 15-20c. This will ensure ultimate freshness.
Chocolate may not be the most obvious nutritious food. However, there is no denying the scientific evidence of its claims which has not only been profoundly researched to date, but is also firmly ingrained in its history. Next time you are thinking of passing on that piece of chocolate, think again!
If you would like to find food freedom and body peace, you download week 1 for free of my Nourish Me Intuitive eating and Wellbeing program here