Yeah, we've all heard the good news. Chocolate is good for us! At least if it isn't loaded with sugar and a bunch of random preservatives and emulsifiers. The purer, the better, the closer to the tree form (cocoa nib, anyone?), the more potent.
Cocoa, that ancient super-food, first cultivated by tribes living in Central America, is full of antioxidants, polyphenols, and catechins. Basically, those are some fancy words for some good compounds that help your cells regenerate properly.
Why is cocoa a super-food? Research has shown that it protects the cardiovascular system. It does this by improving blood flow, because the compounds in cocoa help hinder platelet clumping. It may also lower LDL, the "bad" cholesterol, in your blood, and raise your HDL, or "good cholesterol". This is good news for your arteries and your heart! Additionally, it can help support your microbiome, which is the composition of bacteria in your intestines. If you read my blog on gut health, you'll see how important a healthy gut is. I'm all for eating a little chocolate with my probiotic!
My new favorite way to eat chocolate is delicious and locally produced! Check out Holy Cacao for some REAL chocolate. My favorite is the 60% cocoa with mint. They also make a 90% which has a rich and complex flavor. It pairs really well with a latte! They make a variety of tastes and, with different cocoa percentages, you are sure to find one that suits your taste buds. I recently used the 90% in place of half of my regular 60% cocoa chips when I made chocolate chip cookies. Totally gourmet, and totally delicious!
In order to maximize the benefits of cocoa, keep it low or no sugar, consume about 2 ounce portions a few times a week so it doesn't affect weight gain, and keep it as dark and pure as possible for maximum flavanol content. B'tay avon!
Holy Cacao is available at numerous suppliers or you can order direct from their online shop. I bought mine at Nitzat Duv D'van. For a complete list of stores, click here.