Healthy Chocolate? Yes, Really
It’s true, our favourite comfort food is in fact good for us. Hooray! Research into the health benefits of chocolate has even led some experts to deem it a superfood. Your average bar of milk or white chocolate can't ever really be considered healthy because of the high levels of fat and added sugar. But stick to raw or dark chocolate with a cocoa percentage of 60% and above, and it seems you have very little to feel guilty about...
Healthy chocolate? Yes, really. Here are some of the reasons to treat yourself:
A study of 21,000 residents in Norfolk found that middle-aged adults who ate up to 3.5 ounces (2+ bars) of chocolate each day had lower rates of heart disease than those who skipped eating chocolate altogether. While this hasn't led to experts introducing a daily recommended amount of chocolate (we wish!), they did conclude that there's no reason for anyone concerned about heart disease to avoid eating chocolate. Other studies have linked eating chocolate with reducing blood pressure - another important risk factor for developing heart disease.
Cocoa is a rich source of flavonoids, antioxidants produced by plants. Cocoa flavonoids have been proven to help improve blood flow to the brain, improving memory and learning. Some scientists believe that flavonoids could play an important part in helping to slow down brain deterioration associated with ageing, and could even help prevent illnesses such as Alzheimer's disease. Research into this is ongoing, but it does look as though cocoa flavonoids could have a positive impact on brain health.
A study published in 2006 by the American Society of Nutrition found that long-term ingestion of cocoa flavonoids led to improved skin condition and reduced sun sensitivity in women. So eating too much chocolate doesn't give us bad skin after all?! Remember though - it's good quality, raw or dark chocolate you want to be eating.
Dark chocolate is also rich in resveratrol, another antioxidants. Studies have shown the resveratrol (also found in red wine, tea and citrus fruits) can help increase levels of seratonin in the brain. This feel-good chemical plays an important role in regulating our mood - perhaps that's why eating chocolate makes us feel good?!
So there you have it. Chocolate can be healthy, really! We're definitely not saying you should swap your veggies for chocolate, and as always - if you're concerned about a particular health concern you should consult your doctor for medical advice. But if you're a normal, healthy and active person - enjoying high quality raw or dark chocolate in moderation could definitely be a good move.
I find eating a couple of squares of dark chocolate between meals is a great way to kick those naughty cravings to the curb, and love my healthy hot chocolate made with raw cacao, maple syrup and almond milk. What about you?
mouth-watering to share?