Who doesn’t love indulging in a bar of chocolate? With it’s rich, melt in your mouth taste it can quite simply be described as a slice of heaven! But what once was reserved for treat times has now been discovered to have significant health benefits that make it a worthy addition to your daily superfoods list!
The cacao bean is one of the worlds most nutritious fruits, containing more than 300 nutrients.
The flavonoids found in cacao are anti-oxidants that boost the immune system and promote healthy cholesterol levels. They have also been linked to preventing heart attacks and reducing blood pressure.
And that feel good factor you get from eating chocolate comes from the theobromine and phenylethylamine found in raw cacao that has a stimulating, mood enhancing effect. And that’s why eating chocolate makes us feel happy!
In addition to this, Cacao beans contain high levels of the following super nutrients:
An electrolyte that helps counteract the effects of sodium in the diet and therefore can help to reduce the risk of heart disease and lower blood pressure. Potassium rich foods also help to maintain an alkaline environment in the body, which has been linked with better health and lower inflammation. And has also been proven to help preserve muscle mass, particularly in older people.
Magnesium plays a vital role in helping our body to convert the food we eat into energy and has been linked to boosting performance during exercise. As it helps to move blood sugar into muscles and dispose of lactic acid, which can build up during exercise leading to post workout pain.
Iron is necessary to maintain healthy cells, skin and hair but is best known for being an important component in its essential work to transport oxygen around the body, and without it you’re likely to become fatigued.
Linked to a healthy immune system, zinc deficiency can affect the body’s natural ability to fight infections, and heal wounds. And has also been linked to helping to reduce the duration and severity of the common cold, if taken within 24 hours of onset of symptoms.
But sadly, not all chocolate is equal! The traditional confectionery chocolate products are manufactured using a high heat treatment process which damages the heat sensitive nutrients meaning many of the health benefits are lost by the time it gets turned into a chocolate bar. However, in raw chocolate products the cacao beans are usually dried gently at temperatures below 42 degrees which helps to preserve the precious nutrients that offer such amazing health benefits.
Raw chocolate also contains around 29% natural sugars, as opposed to 53% refined sugars in traditional chocolate products which may leave you with a snack that's going to create a spike in your blood sugar levels. And whilst this may initially get an energy boost, this will quickly turn into an energy slump as your body works to correct and balance this sugar rush.
Written by Kate Swinson - Wellbeing & Performance Coach and Founder of MEvME