It might surprise you that hundreds of years ago cacao, the primary ingredient in chocolate was prized for its medicinal properties. However when it comes to chocolate, not just any chocolate will do. Chocolate can be good for you, but I don’t recommend the ones found in supermarkets which can be made from hydrogenated vegetable oils, milk solids, soy, protein isolates, lecithin, additives, refined sugars and much more.
What Makes Cacao so Beneficial?
Chocolate contains many important vitamins and minerals including:
- Magnesium and other essential minerals such as; iron, zinc, potassium, calcium, copper, Vitamin C, sulfur, manganese
- Cacao contains some of the highest antioxidant content, even higher than blueberries
- Contains Vitamins B1,2,3,5,9 and E
- Amino Acids
- Oleic acid (a monounsaturated fat) has been found to reduce blood pressure, improve insulin sensitivity, aids fat burning, aids in T2DM management, protects against free radical damage and more.
Other health benefits include:
1. Improves mood
Scientific studies indicate that it stimulates the release of endorphins in the human body, so as a result, cacao has anti-depressant effects. Cacao has also long been known as an aphrodisiac due to its ‘feel good’ properties, it also helps one to de-stress, relax and also promotes higher energy levels. Cacao is also rich in the amino acid tryptophan which enhances relaxation and promotes better sleep.
2. Lowers blood pressure and blood sugar levels
The Mayo Clinic says other studies suggest the antioxidant content in chocolate (when eaten in moderation) helps to reduce high blood pressure, improve circulation, enhance insulin sensitivity and helps to lower blood sugar levels.
3. Improves concentration and mental wellbeing
Dark chocolate has been shown to increase blood flow to the brain and provide important minerals that can also help to ward off dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. Theobromine, a component found in cacao is a mild stimulant and helps to stimulate the central nervous system, relax smooth muscle, dilate blood vessels and give the body a boost in energy.
4. Helps balance hormones
Have you ever craved chocolate when that time of the month comes around? That’s because serotonin (feel good hormone) levels drop dramatically so many women can experience PMS (pre menstrual tension). But there’s good news, cacao helps boost serotonin and helps us feel more calm and restored.
5. Improves digestion
Cacao helps to stimulate the body’s production of digestive enzymes.
6. Appetite suppressant
Raw cacao contains appetite suppressant properties. Have you ever noticed it in weight loss products? That’s because it helps to manage and control hunger.
7. Healthy heart
Cacao is incredibly rich in magnesium which is the number one mineral that helps support a healthy functioning heart. Additionally, the antioxidant powder of flavonoids and the essential minerals and vitamins found in cacao also helps support a healthy heart. If you didn’t already love chocolate for its taste, you will love it even more because of its many health benefits. Happy changing habits. Jordan Pie, Changing Habits Nutritionist