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The Case For Eating Chocolate

The case for eating chocolate

Easter is a month away, and the supermarkets are full of chocolate eggs, bunnies and other furry, critter-shaped chocolates.  It’s hard to resist, and you almost certainly know you’ll overeat it over the Easter period (if not before!).

Clients often ask me ‘What’s your naughty treat?’, or  ‘When you’re going to indulge in something, what is it?’, and for me the answer is always CHOCOLATE.  I eat chocolate every day, not a lot, just one or two squares of good quality dark cacao chocolate.  There’s no need to quit it or totally avoid it, just tweak it to make it healthier, and of course watch your portion sizes.

Chocolate has a host of health benefits when consumed in moderation, as it contains:

  • The highest concentration of antioxidants of any food in the world.  By weight cacao has more antioxidants than red wine, blueberries, acai, pomegranates and goji berries combined.  Antioxidants protect us from age-related health conditions, illnesses and protects our DNA from free radical damage.
  • A fantastic source of magnesium which supports healthy heart function, increases brain power, relaxes muscles and builds strong bones.  Magnesium is the most deficient mineral on the standard American Diet.
  • Chromium, a trace mineral that helps balance our blood sugar and reduces sugar cravings
  • Zinc which is important for our immune system, skin health, liver function and mood.  Zinc is used in over 300 different enzyme reactions in the body and helps to protect the body from EMFs and heavy metals.
  • Tryptophan a powerful mood enhancing nutrient required for the production of serotonin.

NOTE:  In order to achieve these health benefits its important to consume cacao.  Your average Cadbury’s dairy milk chocolate, Kit Kat or Mars bar do not offer you these health benefits and contain large amounts of sugar.  Dairy actually inhibits the absorption of many of the beneficial nutrients in cacao so its important to mix your cacao with either nut milk or coconut milk or just plain water.

How to best enjoy chocolate

  • Cacao nibs can be added to your favourite dessert instead of chocolate chips.
  • Add cacao nibs to a trail mix of goji berries, almonds, inca berries and pumpkin seeds
  • Blend cacao powder into some warmed almond milk for a delicious warming hot chocolate – cacao has a natural bitter taste.  You can offset this with a sprinkle of cinnamon and some vanilla paste – no need for sugar here!

I’m a huge plant nerd and so therefore feel the need to share these facts about chocolate. Did you know?

  • There is no cacao season – chocolate is always in season.
  • The cacao tree flowers and produces fruit all year long.  Cacao flowers are rarely visited by bees, they are pollinated by tiny insects called midges and there are 6 different types that help pollinate cacao.
  • It takes 5 or 6 months or a fertilised cacao pod to ripen and each pod contains around 25-50 almond like seeds or beans.
cacao beans by https://unsplash.com/@rodrigoflores_photo
A cacao pod, being opened for harvest. Image courtesy of Rodrigo Flores at Unsplash 
cacao beans by https://unsplash.com/@rodrigoflores_photo
Hanging cacao pods. Image courtesy of Rodrigo Flores at Unsplash 

Do you like to make your own chocolate?  Here’s a favourite recipe of mine to get you started.

Raw Rose Petal Chocolate

I like to make this chocolate in my Thermomix so have included the settings I use.  If you don’t own a Thermomix you can still make the chocolate on the stove, just keep stirring it during the cooking section (step 3) to avoid burning it.

Ingredients:

  • 100g cacao butter
  • 50g dried sour cherries
  • 30g raw cacao powder
  • 30g macadamia nuts
  • 1 tablespoon coconut nectar
  • 30g raw cacao nibs
  • Dried rose petals or coconut to decorate

Method:

  1. Grate or chop cacao butter
  2. Melt cacao butter (37 degrees speed 2, 10 mins)
  3. Add all other ingredients to bowl (except nibs) and cook (37 degrees, speed 2, 10 mins)
  4. Add nibs and mix well (Speed 4, 10 seconds)
  5. Pour into a lined tray and sprinkle with rose petals or shredded coconut.
  6. Place in fridge to set and then slice.

Want to make this chocolate as an Easter gift? Spread it thin on a lined baking tray and place if freezer and once set snap into random bark shaped pieces or alternatively pour into egg shaped molds for a traditional chocolate effect.

Author: Kerryn Odell

Kerryn is a Nutritionist at our Mona Vale clinic. She specialises in skin health and provides us with simple, easy to follow and achievable care plans; equipping you with the tools to make informed choices regarding your health.

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