Chocolate: Super-Food or Health-Buster?

December 9, 2016
Sugary treats, Holidays, and Tips for Self-Care!
December 22, 2016

…Make sure your chocolate is a superfood rather than a health-buster!

Chocolate. It has been a source of delight for decades. For some of us, it is a way of nurturing or comforting ourselves and/or our loved ones. For others, it is a delicious ingredient in decadent desserts or even in our sensuous body lotions, oils, candles and soaps. I guess for a group of us, it often becomes a source of unhealthy self-medicating. Whether serving as a positive indulgence or as a challenging temptation, chocolate is an irresistible treat for so many which is why I am always happy to share with my clients how they don’t have to give it up – just upgrade what they are using and how they are using it.

Most of you know by now that research in the last decade has shown that properly grown and prepared (actually unprepared!) chocolate can qualify as a superfood; what the ancient Incas considered a “drink of the Gods” (Theobroma cacao, the formal name for the cacao tree comes from the Greek words, theo meaning god and broma meaning drink). I don’t think the Incas had the science to substantiate their claim but we do. Here are just 10 of the benefits of raw cacao (the chocolate bean unrefined and uncooked). The same benefits are still present, albeit in lesser degrees, in minimally processed dark chocolate barsCacao…

  • Has 20 times more antioxidant power than blueberries
  • Enhances moods because it contains “the bliss molecule ”Anandamide”
  • Helps prevent skin cancer and sunburn (German scientists found that cacao protects against harmful cancer-causing UV rays while London scientists found participants who ate 20 grams of cacao for 12 weeks were able to stay in the sun for twice as long as those who didn’t, without getting sunburned.)
  • Boosts seretonin levels, another powerful “feel good” brain chemical
  • Provides abundant polyphenols, shown to help reduce ‘bad cholesterol’ and prevent hardening of the arteries
  • Has the same protective antioxidant power prized in green tea and red wine
  • Contains high levels of the critical minerals, magnesium and sulfur, aiding the heart and liver respectively
  • Thins the blood to help prevent blood clots. (The Nutrition department at the University of California found that eating raw cacao can be just as beneficial as taking an aspirin a day.)
  • Reduces insulin resistance and sensitivity in people with impaired glucose tolerance and smokers.
  • Contains PEA or phenethylamine, which triggers the same pleasure chemicals released naturally when we fall in love or have great sex.

But remember… raw cacao has little in common with our typically processed chocolate bars made with roasted cacoa, sugar, milk and other unhealthy ingredients. There is nothing healthy about these. The good news is you can easily add raw cacao to your chocolate baked goods and smoothies to upgrade their healthy food ranking. You can also buy some quasi-healthy chocolate bars and enjoy them as long as you limit them to being a treat rather than a superfood that can be imbibed without limits.

In your health food store, you will find the healthier versions of minimally processed chocolate bars you can purchase as long as you go for dark chocolate with at least 70% cacao content (without dairy – sorry milk chocolate lovers) and only a bit of natural sweetener. Most of these more health-conscious chocolate producers also work with fair trade cacao producing companies. Why is that an important integrity (vote with your dollars) choice?

Well, the underbelly of the chocolate industry is that the increased demand for the chocolate has increased the exploitation of child labor (increased 51% from 2009 to 2014). Here are 7 of the chocolate companies known to use child labor that borders on slavery (young kids working up to 80 hours a week and per their own words, often beaten to force higher productivity)

  • Hershey
  • Mars
  • Nestle
  • ADM Cocoa
  • Godiva
  • Kraft
  • Fowlers

Since most of these chocolates companies products are highly processed and very unhealthy, I am hoping you will stay away from them and pay just a little more to buy healthier version that support fair trade and labor. Better yet, attend one of my Raw Radiance weeks and learn how to make delicious treats with raw cacao and other superfood ingredients.

Don’t want to wait for May for our live event

Then click here for healthy chocolate recipes that take under 15 minutes to prepare!

And because it is the holidays, I’ll also send you a simple 2 ingredient moisturizing lotion recipe that will delight your skin as well as your olfactory nerves (sense of smell). You can put in jars and give it as a great homemade health-promoting holiday gift.

Remember, being (or becoming) healthy can be delicious, sensuous and a rich, empowered journey!