Health Benefits of Chocolate

Can it really be healthy……. ?  Hmmm…….now there’s a question!
Chocolate like many foods, when in it’s raw natural state is packed with nutrients and freshly made raw chocolate is definitely a healthier option than processed chocolate filled with sugar, dairy and blasted at high temperatures.  But does that mean we can consider it a health food?  Well, that’s really depends on who you ask…..  so maybe the question really should be “do we want chocolate in our life?” and if so, do we have a healthy relationship with it?

Can chocolate be considered a nutritious food?  It really is full of healthy goodness – the 2 main minerals it contains are Magnesium (good for our bones, our heart, our blood and helps alleviate symptoms of PMT,) as well as Sulphur, the beauty mineral (good for hair, eyes, skin and teeth). Chocolate is packed with iron, B-vitamins and also contains the essential amino acid tryptophan which the brain uses to make serotonin.  It is full of anti-oxidants and has a high ORAC rating (ORAC = Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity, a system developed to measure the effectiveness of antioxidants to absorb free radicals in the body).  In fact, chocolate is rated higher than many other well known  anti-oxidants such as blueberries, goji berries and green tea.

The main reason that chocolate (whether raw or heated) is not considered a health food is because it contains caffeine and theobromine which is similar to caffeine and both can have stimulating effects on some people, particularly when raw and especially if eaten in excess.  For some people however, raw chocolate can have a calming effect.

Depending what ingredients are added to the mix will also affect how healthy or unhealthy chocolate ends up – what has it been sweetened with and are any additional fats added? There are several different sugars available depending on your preference and they all affect us in a different way.  We can also add a selection of superfoods to make the chocolate even more nutritious.

Raw chocolate full of superfoods can provide an added boost to our overall wellbeing.  Whilst it is viewed by many as being medicinal, there are plenty more people who do not believe that eating chocolate can compete with the health benefits of eating dark greens, sprouts, algaes & seaweeds but it certainly is a magical food and can quite easily be part of a balanced diet. If you don’t have a sweet tooth then try adding raw chocolate to savoury dishes – sprinkle cacao nibs in a salad or add them to dips and sauces.

Thoughout history, the cacao bean has been considered a precious food.  It has been worshiped, used in religious ceremonies, fought over and used as currency. There’s definitely something special about this bean and we all feel that raw chocolate is a food for sharing and opens the heart. As with all stimulants, too much can lead to dehydration but   it’s so intense that it can easily be enjoyed in moderation.

Raw chocolate often introduces people to the raw food lifestyle and for that reason alone it can be educating and inspiring.

For further reading on this subject, have a look at this article by Kate Magic