Ah yes, is there anything more satisfying to a sugar craving than chocolate?
Maybe, but we haven’t found it!
But did you know that quality chocolate supports many health functions? It’s a win-win!
Let’s talk ‘bout our best friend: cocoa!
Dark Chocolate vs the Other Stuff
Listen, we aren’t telling you to grab the biggest candy bar you can find--slow down there!
If you’re looking to reap the health benefits of cacao, a Snickers bar won’t do. Dark chocolate, aka chocolate with a high percentage of cocoa and minimal sugar, holds many positive health benefits.
The cocoa bean, or cacao bean, originates from the plant of the same name. In fact, it is a tropical evergreen tree, and its beans are dried and processed into cocoa for a multitude of purposes.
Cocoa packs a powerful punch. According to Healthline, in one 100g bar of dark chocolate with 70-85% cocoa, there is soluble fiber and a ton of other great things like magnesium, selenium, iron, potassium, and zinc!
In addition, consuming cacao has been linked to heart health. In a recent study, subjects with high blood pressure and glucose sensitivity were found to have lower pressure and better tolerance of said glucose. Cacao has high levels of polyphenols, which are linked to lower risk of cardiovascular disease!
So if your heart races at the thought of eating dark chocolate, we say--go for it!
Quality cacao also contains a bunch of flavonoids that are powerful antioxidants and anti-inflammatory agents.
Chronic inflammation can lead to diseases, especially if you already consume inflammatory foods!
Dark chocolate to the rescue! The flavonoids in quality dark chocolate with a high concentration of cacao support healthy aging and production of cells that line your arteries.
Eating chocolate to protect our arteries? Sounds like a small sacrifice.
Take Your Stress Down a Notch
Do you ever wonder why when we are stressed, our body craves comfort foods and sugary sweets like chocolate? Well...it could have to do with the fact that high concentrations of cacao brings with it behavioral and brain benefits, according to recent studies.
Cacao has been shown to support the release of neurotransmitters, which is related to the release of uplifting serotonin. Low levels of serotonin has been linked to depression, so next time you’re stressed and releasing all sorts of cortisol (the stress hormone), it might actually make sense to take a break and grab a handful of cacao nibs for some much deserved “me time”.
If you’re digging the health benefits your favorite treat brings, remember that the type of chocolate you buy makes all the difference.
When purchasing cacao, make sure it is minimally processed, meaning raw is the best. Often cocoa producers will roast the beans which zaps all the good nutrients right out!
And chocoholics be warned: everything in moderation is the best way to balance out your nutrition.
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Written by Annie-Eliza Stevens