Why Chocolate Should Be Included In Your Diet This January: The Health Benefits Of ‘Real’ Chocolate.
We’ve all been there, eaten far too much over the festive period, with chocolate being one of the biggest culprits. When it comes to the New Year many of us try to ‘be good’ and shed a few pounds by avoiding those naughty trigger-foods.
But recent studies suggest that selecting a ‘real*’ chocolate, free from bulking agents (such as flours and vegetable fats), have health benefits. Something, we don’t really want to miss out on, right?
Remember, if a chocolate bar has vegetable fats (or another bulking agent) in its ingredients list it’s likely the producer has upped its sugar content to counteract the taste, something that many of us are trying to cut down on.
Let’s go back to basics - The Theobroma Cacao tree grows cocoa pods from its trunk and is considered to be a fruit plantation. Yes, it’s a FRUIT plant. Each cocoa pod contains around 30-50 cocoa beans, encased in a sweet pulp. This fatty seed is dried and fully-fermented before cocoa solids and cocoa butter are extracted to form the basis of chocolate.
(Did you know Theobroma, roughly translated means food of the gods? Rather fitting for a tree that creates a product as divine as chocolate, don’t you think?)
Cocoa contains high levels of minerals and antioxidants. To gain its benefits I always recommend a Dark chocolate with 70% cocoa solids and above. A ‘real’ dark chocolate should also contain no dairy, only cocoa butter.
Without getting too technical, consuming chemicals called flavanols (a compound that possesses antioxidant properties) found in cocoa is linked to reduced blood pressure and cholesterol, two major risk factors for Heart Disease. In short-term studies, these same flavanols have been found to increase insulin sensitivity which, in turn, could reduce risk of diabetes.
Consuming minerals are essential for maintaining a healthy body. Cocoa contains many minerals but is particularly rich in Iron, Copper, Magnesium, Phosphorus and Zinc. These minerals work in our bodies to maintain the immune system, aid tissue repair, regulate blood sugar and kidney function and so much more.
Granted, chocolate of any kind is high in calories and if eaten in excess may contribute to weight gain, however consuming 1 or 2 squares of ‘real’ chocolate daily is enough to gain benefits to your health.
So, when you’re next out shopping, pick up a luxurious dark chocolate and allow yourself a piece now and then without feeling guilty. Personally, my motivation fades drastically when on a diet where all of my favourite things are prohibited. Perhaps this year we will all do better knowing that chocolate may not be such a detriment to our health after all.
If you’d like to learn more of the history and production of chocolate, or if you’d just like to broaden your chocolate horizons, you can book a chocolate tasting session with us. Please don't hesitate to get in contact with me for more information.
*‘Real’ Chocolate should contain only cocoa solids, cocoa butter, milk solids and sugar, anything else is considered to be a bulking agent. Dark chocolates should also be dairy free.
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