Eat More Chocolate! (plus a guilt-free recipe)
By Emily Borgeest
Are you a chocolate lover? If so, you’re in luck! Cocoa is made from cacao, which is the dried seed of a South American Evergreen tree. Cocoa, in its raw form, is filled with iron, fiber, calcium, zinc, potassium and antioxidants.
Raw cocoa is incredibly nutrient-dense. It’s loaded with antioxidant flavonoids, that improve heart health by protecting it against toxins, as well as improving circulation and regulating heartbeat. According to Harvard researchers, consuming cocoa is associated with decreased blood pressure, improved blood vessel health and improved cholesterol levels. Eric L. Ding, PhD, of Harvard Medical School says that cocoa’s health benefits are due to the polyphenolic flavonoids found in cocoa, which have the potential to prevent heart disease.
Other nutrients found in cocoa are: manganese, magnesium and sulfur. Manganese helps oxygenate your blood; magnesium balances brain chemistry; and sulfur builds strong nails and hair, as well as supports healthy skin.
Above all, cocoa makes you feel good. Cocoa promotes the release of neurotransmitters, which release feel-good hormones. Consuming raw cocoa will raise your levels of serotonin, which acts as a natural antidepressant and can help reduce PMS symptoms. It also sparks the release of endorphins, which create a pleasurable feeling.
It’s important to keep in mind, however, that not all chocolate is created equally. White chocolate is the least nutritious and doesn’t actually contain any cocoa. It’s made from cocoa butter from which the cocoa solids have been removed. White chocolate is loaded with milk and sugar and contains no nutritional value.
Sadly, you won’t reap many health benefits from milk chocolate either, as it contains added milk and sugar, which not only makes it fattening, but takes away from the nutritional value of the natural cocoa
To reap the most health benefits from cocoa, choose a dark chocolate of 70% or higher. The higher the percentage, the more cocoa and the fewer added ingredients. Raw cocoa is best and comes in many forms including whole beans, nibs and powder. Nibs are terrific in cookies, smoothies, trail mix and as a topper on cereal or yogurt. My favorite use for cocoa, especially during winter, is hot cocoa made with raw cocoa powder.
Go on, indulge in and warm up with hot cocoa, guilt free, and with the piece of mind that you are actually doing your body good.
Hot Cocoa Recipe
- 1 ½ cup unsweetened almond milk (or non-dairy milk of choice)
- 2 tbsp cocoa
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1 tsp stevia (or natural sweetener of choice)
- Add all ingredients to a small pot and heat on the stove to desired temperature (5-10 minutes).
- Stir until all cocoa is mixed in.
Certified Holistic Health Coach and Founder at Cleo’s Wholesome Crunch LLC
Emily Borgeest is a Certified Holistic Health Coach, founder of Cleo’s Wholesome Crunch LLC, an organic, gluten and sugar-free line of granola and cookies and a public relations professional based in New York City.Emily holds a Certification from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, the world’s largest nutrition school and the only school integrating over 100 dietary theories, from traditional philosophies like ayurveda and macrobiotics, to modern concepts.
In her free time, Emily enjoys cooking nutrient-dense foods and baking with superfoods and gluten-free flours, without refined sugar. She is a fitness enthusiast and makes an effort to break a sweat each day, whether it’s through a run, weight training session, or kickboxing. Emily thrives on helping people become their most vibrant self through clean eating and exercise.
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