…thought that may grab your attention! The right type and the right amount can be good for you..great news huh!
Historically, chocolate — ‘the food of the Gods’ — was a symbol of luxury, wealth, and power, with it typically being a food of kings and queens. During the 14th century, the Aztecs and Mayans even used cacao beans as currency.
These guys also knew of it’s health benefits with them using it for angina and heart pain and as a mood enhancer and an aphrodisiac.
More recently, research has shown chocolate has even more impressive health benefits – but the ‘right’ kind of chocolate.
Not all chocolate is created equal
Raw cacao is quite bitter, not sweet. This is due to approx. 400 polyphenols that are present. When we’re referring to the health benefits of chocolate, it is cocao not the super sweet stuff or the milky stuff that is meant.
Unfortunately, the vast majority of chocolate consumed is the super sweet, milky form, which has limited amounts of the healthy cocao and lots of sugar. The added milk also interferes with the body’s ability to absorb the beneficial antioxidants.
Cocoa health benefits
Cacao’s benefits are related to naturally occurring compounds in the bean, that have both antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
Resveratrol, a potent antioxidant, is known for its neuroprotective effects. It has the ability to cross your blood-brain barrier, which allows it to moderate inflammation in your central nervous system (CNS). CNS inflammation plays an important role in the development of neurodegenerative diseases.
A professor at Harvard spent years studying the Kuna people of Panama (who consume up to 40 cups of cocoa a week). The Kuna have less than a 10% risk of stroke, heart failure, cancer and diabetes, which are the most prevalent diseases in the Western world.
Many recent studies have confirmed that cacao can benefit your heart, blood vessels, brain, nervous system, and help combat diabetes and other conditions stemming from inflammation.
Like with everything in life, it’s about moderation. There are no guidelines or studies giving specific dosing amounts. Aim for organic, raw cocoa, don’t add milk products or lashings of sugar if making it into a drink. If buying chocolate – aim for 50% or more cocoa content and one square a day is a good guide for consumption.