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What sort of chocolate is good for you at Easter?

Posted by Dr Michelle Woolhouse on 23 March 2018
What sort of chocolate is good for you at Easter?

If you are like me you love to eat chocolate.  However, not just any chocolate. I like to eat the varieties that are often referred to as "superfoods."

When Easter comes around we are ready for that chocolate hit. Why not have a chocolate choice that is both healthy and absolutely delicious?

There is substantial scientific evidence to support the health benefits of cacao and dark chocolate.

Cacao

Cacao has a reputation for being one of the great superfoods.  Known as one of the purest forms of chocolate.  Highly antioxidant, rich in magnesium and minerals.

The health benefits of Cacao include:

Antioxidants: Cacao beans contain flavonoids.  Flavonoids are a type of antioxidant.  Cacao has more flavonoids than any other food that are consumed.  Ingested flavonoids can provide anti-inflammatory support.  Supporting the immune functions, it also attacks free radicals that can lead to serious diseases such as cancer, strokes, heart attacks and high blood pressure.

Magnesium: Every cell in the body contains and requires magnesium to function. Magnesium fights acid build-up.  Increasing magnesium creates many health benefits including increasing energy, calming sensitivity to pain, relieves muscle aches, aiding digestion and assisting in building good bones and teeth.

Natural Mood Booster: Raw cocoa contains anandamide, a substance that assists with inducing euphoria, it also contains phenylethylamine (PEA), which is a mood enhancer.  PEA helps stimulates the central nervous system to release endorphins.  PEA increases alertness, increases the ability to focus, elevates mood and helps to speed up metabolism and boosts memory. Raw cacao also contains theobromine, an alkaloid providing an energy boost which may also help to reduce stress.

What about Dark Chocolate?

The general consensus is that dark chocolate typically contains between 70 to 99 percent pure cocoa or cocoa solids.

The health benefits of dark Chocolate include:

Protection from Disease-Causing Free Radicals: Free radicals are unbalanced compounds created by cellular processes in the body, especially those that fight against environmental toxins we're exposed to on a daily basis. Antioxidants are the compounds that are believed to neutralis e free radicals and protect the body from their damage.

Potential Cancer Prevention: It may be hard to believe, but that tasty dark chocolate you eat and love may also help you ward off cancer. That's right one of the benefits of dark chocolate is its potential as a cancer-fighting food.

Heart Health: Flavanols are the main type of flavonoid found in dark chocolate. According to Cleveland Clinic, research has shown that flavanols have a very positive effect on heart health by helping lower blood pressure and improving blood flow to the heart as well as the brain. Dark chocolate flavanols can also help make blood platelets less sticky and able to clot, which reduces the risk of blood clots and stroke.

Better Cognitive Function: Previous research showed that "acute as well as chronic ingestion of flavanol-rich cocoa is associated with increased blood flow to cerebral grey matter and it has been suggested that cocoa flavanols might be beneficial in conditions with reduced cerebral blood flow, including dementia and stroke.

Blood Pressure and Blood Sugar Aid: A study published in 2015 compared type 2 diabetics' consumption of white chocolate versus high-cocoa, polyphenol-rich dark chocolate. The subjects consumed 25 grams (a little under one ounce) of dark or white chocolate for eight weeks. The researchers found that not only did dark chocolate lower the blood pressure of the hypertensive diabetics, but it also decreased fasting blood sugar.

"Eat two squares of dark chocolate at least 80 percent cocoa per day. Based on the best evidence, it would be close to the No.1 food you can eat. It has powerful anti-ageing capabilities. In laboratory studies, it has been shown to reduce ageing by up to 80 percent. The four people who lived the longest on earth have all eaten dark chocolate" 
Dr Avni Sali | Director of the National Institute of Integrative Medicine

Chocolate Smoothie

  • 1/2 teaspoon cocoa   
  • 1 frozen banana,
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 cup of almond milk
  • 1 teaspoon chia seeds

Cocoa Balls 

  • 2 Medjool dates
  • 1 cup almond meal
  • 1/2 cup shredded coconut, plus 1/3 cup extra for rolling
  • 1/3 cup coconut oil
  • 1/3 cup cacao powder
  • 1 tablespoon chia seeds

-Place dates in a medium bowl and cover with water. Stand for 1 hour. Drain and discard seeds.
-Process dates, almond meal, shredded coconut, coconut oil, cacao powder and chia seeds until mixture comes together. Transfer to a bowl and stand for 20 minutes for chia seeds to soften.
-Place remaining coconut in a shallow dish.
-Roll level tablespoons of mixture into balls. Roll in coconut to coat.

Author: Dr Michelle Woolhouse
About: Dr Michelle Woolhouse, Whole Medicine founder and principal GP, and her team understand the challenges patients face because they have experienced it either as doctors or patients. The practice was founded in 2009 out of a strong desire to redefine whole person care, to include nutrition and environmental medicine, and integrating mind-body techniques. The practice gained a reputation that challenged the traditional way of delivering patient care. Whole Medicine has flourished to become the choice for an inspired Mornington Peninsula community.
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Tags: Preventative Medicine Health and Well Being Family GP

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