Valentines Day is usually a day for flowers, love letters, dinners out and…. chocolate! Being the romantics at heart that we are, we want to share our tips for making your indulgence in chocolate work for your health, not against it!
Firstly lets step back in time…
Traditionally chocolate was used by ancient civilizations as a sacred food and to be honest we’re not surprised!
“Ancient Aztec and Mayan cultures highly valued cacao and chocolate. They consumed it, in beverage form, for religious ceremonies and medicinal purposes. Cocoa beans were sometimes used as money.
Chocolate is not only a food, but also a medicine. Preparations are well documented by the explorers who came in contact with cacao during their travels. Cacao (or cocoa) medicinal properties were noted to alleviate fever, anemia, poor appetite, metal fatigue and poor breast milk production, as well as tuberculosis, gout, kidney stones and low virility. This delicious bean was famous for healing the nervous system and improving digestion and elimination.”
As Valentines day shows us chocolate has stood the test of time and is still revered as a food of celebration and ceremony and this is for good reason, in its raw form cacao contains potassium, phosphorus, copper, iron, zinc, and magnesium which contribute to cardiovascular health. Chocolate has the ability to trigger the release of dopamine and the endorphin phenylethylamine, both of which soothe the symptoms of premenstrual syndrome and depression. Due to its high valeric acid content, cacao has stress relieving properties despite the presence of the stimulants theobromine and caffeine.
Wow, chocolate is starting to sound like medicine! But unfortunately many types of chocolate that we consume today have been stripped of their potent health benefits and filled with additives, sugar being the most common!
To ensure that you get all the good bits out of your chocolate this valentines day, we recommend that you look for the following:
- If you enjoy rich flavours, try raw cacao, the flavanols in raw cacao cause it to taste quite bitter so be sure to check the ingredients panel to see what is used to flavour and sweeten the chocolate – coconut nectar is a great low GI option
- Choose dark chocolate – 70% or higher is great as it contains less pasteurised milk and generally less sugar
- Stay away from white chocolate, it is very high in sugar and has no phytonutrients present
- Look for raw, uncooked, unprocessed chocolate, the more natural the better
- Check out your local health food and organic grocery stores, you may pay a bit more for your chocolate but if you choose well, you will find that the rich flavours will leave you satisfied quicker meaning you don’t need to eat as much
- Drink your chocolate – have you tried raw cacao powder? We have a recipe below to enjoy…