Yes, eat more chocolate!
Did you know that chocolate is the number one food craved by women between the ages of 25 and 40 years old? Well just about every woman in that age range knows this. It’s delicious.
We are bombarded with chocolate this time of year. Buying chocolate for our sweetie is well…just sweet. But, if you are watching your waistline, managing pre-diabetes, or high cholesterol, then these temptations are far from wonderful.
But, unless you have an allergy or serious medical condition that is affected by chocolate, it’s unrealistic (and unnecessary) to say that you’ll never eat another bite again. The good news is that chocolate has many positive health benefits. These benefits include everything from cardiac support to strengthening bones to improved brain health.
However, it’s not white chocolate or milk chocolate that has health benefits. Dark chocolate is where the good stuff is, and we’ll look at that in a minute.
Chocolate comes from the cacao (Ca-Cow) tree, which means “food of the gods” in some cultures. No wonder we can’t get enough! It’s the loads of antioxidants and richness in minerals like magnesium, iron, copper, and manganese that make chocolate a powerhouse for health. Raw cocoa beans score among the highest on the ORAC (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity) value food score, which measures the antioxidant activity of the food.
Antioxidants are amazing little crusaders for health because they neutralize dangerous free radicals that bounce around your body and damage cellular DNA, which causes disease. It’s only when your cellular DNA is happy that you’re healthy! Chocolate is rich in antioxidants called flavanols. Studies have shown that people with high blood levels of this antioxidant have a lower risk of heart disease, asthma, and diabetes.
Chocolate to boost health...
So how do you get the most health boosting immune supporting antioxidants out of your chocolate? Find a chocolate that has a cacao level between 60-90%. If you are a milk chocolate lover and just don’t like dark, give your taste buds time to enjoy the good stuff. Don’t expect your taste buds to instantly enjoy a 90% cacao level. Instead, start with a 55% cacao level and adjust to that. Next, slowly increase by 10% over time to continue to boost your antioxidant intake from chocolate. Soon you will be enjoying dark chocolate along with its health benefits.
Another option is to look for cacao powder, which is naturally sugar free, dairy free, and loaded with antioxidants. You can use cacao powder in your morning oatmeal, in desserts like chocolate chia seed pudding or make a healthy chocolate shake with it. A few frozen bananas blended with cacao powder is nutrient rich and delicious dessert. Finally, cacao nibs are called nature’s chocolate chips. Made from crushed cacao beans, they’re crunchy and full of flavor and make a great addition to smoothies, baked goods, trail mixes, or even over a bowl full of berries. Cacao nibs are loaded with magnesium an important mineral we don’t get enough of.
So, as you are surrounded by endless Valentine’s Day milk chocolate, remember that it’s lower in the health-boosting cacao and abundant in fat, sugar, and dairy. Instead, take this opportunity seek out darker chocolate and start training your taste buds to enjoy the darker side of chocolate and all its health-boosting qualities.
Your health will thank you!
I invite you to take a closer look at your sweet cravings, such as chocolate. It's easy to make tweaks to what you are eating with personalized steps for greater health benefit. Call my office at 970-444-2122 or email me at [email protected], to book a 30 minutes one-on-one coaching call. In this call we will discuss what you have tried, where you want to go with your health and nutrition, and steps you need to take to get there. We will simplify your starting steps so you can live happier, healthier, and have more fun!
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