Whether you love a good bar, some shavings, or even raw cacao or cocoa powder, check out these amazing benefits you are reaping every time you indulge.
1. Excellent Nutritional Profile
If you must reach for a treat, chocolate is a great choice. High-quality chocolate (the darker the better) is chock full of nutrients. A 100g bar of dark chocolate with 70% or higher cocoa content contains:
- 11 grams of fiber
- High recommended daily allowances of Iron (67%) and Magnesium (58%)
- High recommended daily allowances of Copper (89%) and Manganese (98%)
- Great source of selenium, zinc, potassium, and phosphorus
Of course, that 100g bar also contains about 600 calories, so it’s best not to eat a whole bar at once. Instead, enjoy ½-1 ounce of chocolate a few times per week to enjoy the benefits – and the deliciousness!
2. Full of Antioxidants
Raw cacao is one of the highest scoring foods when it comes to its antioxidant power. The concentration of flavonoids found in cocoa and dark chocolate rival that of acai berries and blueberries, if you can believe it. So, adding a bit of dark chocolate to your menu can benefit your health in the long run by helping to take care of damaged cells in the body.
3. Cholesterol Chaser
All those antioxidants in dark chocolate are great news to those with high cholesterol. You see, the flavanols found in cocoa also help to reduce bad cholesterol levels, by preventing free radicals from oxidizing LDL cholesterol. Not only that, flavanols can also help the body produce nitric oxide, a compound that helps tell the body to relax its blood vessels, which in turn lowers blood pressure levels.
These two factors combined also spell good news for those at risk of cardiovascular disease by reducing two major risk factors.
4. Head off Diabetes
This might seem counterintuitive, but chocolate can help with diabetes prevention. Again, the flavonoids in cocoa are a key factor, as their effect of increasing nitric oxide also help to reduce insulin sensitivity – one of the early signs of a potential to develop diabetes.
Choosing Healthy Chocolate
When you decide to buy chocolate, keep these few tips in mind:
- Fewer ingredients = better
- Higher percentage of cacao = healthier (more antioxidants, less fat and sugar)
- Avoid trans fats – they aren’t a necessary ingredient
- Avoid cocoa processed with alkali – it reduces antioxidant levels
- Choose fair trade and organic
Remember that chocolate is also meant to be an indulgence. Opt to enjoy ½-1 ounce of dark chocolate a few times per week for the health benefits without all of the calories.
Chocolate Smoothie Bowl
To enjoy the health benefits of chocolate without the extra fat that comes in a bar of chocolate, try a chocolate smoothie bowl made with raw cacao powder.
½ cup non-dairy milk (almond, rice, coconut, etc.)
1 frozen banana
1 tablespoon raw cacao powder
Optional toppings: berries, nuts, seeds, coconut flakes, raw cacao nibs
Place all ingredients, except the toppings, into a blender. Blend until thoroughly mixed. Pour into a bowl and top with favorite toppings. Enjoy!