Yes, we want you to EAT CHOCOLATE! But let’s be clear, not just any type of chocolate. If you want to reap the health benefits from your post-lunch treat, you need to ensure you choose the right types.
Please, let’s clear the air: we’re not talking about Snickers, Kit Kat bars or even Lindt milk chocolate bars. We’re talking about the dark stuff: 70% or higher to be precise, as well as cocoa and cacao powder.
Let’s talk about the 4 health benefits of chocolate!
High in Polyphenols
Polyphenols are antioxidants that are found in fruits, veggies, red wine, and even cocoa! However, it is very important to remember that these polyphenols may not be present or are reduced in cocoa after heating (like how we see in most of the chocolate we consume).
To reap the most benefits, go straight for the cacao! Cacao is the unprocessed version of cocoa, and can be purchased as a powder or whole “nibs”. And polyphenols have a few benefits of their own, including:
Antioxidants can help to reduce inflammation, particularly chronic inflammation, as they help to reduce the number of free radicals in the body and the damage that they can cause.
Better blood pressure
The consumption of polyphenols has been linked with better blood pressure and vascular function (1).
It is widely known that antioxidants play a big role in cancer prevention. With such a high number of polyphenols in cocoa and cacao, this can be a great addition to your daily routine to help reduce your risk of cancer.
Reduced risk of heart attack and stoke
Cocoa is also rich in something called flavanols, which have been linked to healthy blood vessel function. This happens because flavanols can help to establish optimal nitric oxide levels, which impact our blood pressure. When our blood pressure is balanced, this can help to reduce our risk of heart attack and stroke.
Reduces “bad cholesterol”
We’ve talked before about the difference between good and bad cholesterol. Cocoa and cacao can actually help to reduce the LDL, the “bad cholesterol” in our bodies, resulting in reduced risk of high cholesterol.
Can boost brain function
Improved blood flow, means improved brain function! So, let’s talk about flavanols again.
As flavanols improve our blood flow with the production of nitric oxide, we improve the blood supply to our brains!
What are some of our favourite ways to add cocoa or cacao into our diet?
- Hot cacao with Cacao powder, cinnamon and steamed oat milk
- Chocolate energy bites
- Iced Mocha for the summer with iced coffee, cacao powder, plus some chocolate protein powder