Let’s Make Chocolate a Healthy Food Again!

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Chocolate is derived from cacao beans (Theobroma cacao). Chocolate or cacao bean-derived drinks and sauces have been around for centuries. However, these drinks would have been considered bitter, not sweet. We know that the ancient Mexicans, the Mayans and Aztecs made such liquids which are probably the forerunners of the ever popular modern-day Mexican mole sauce. And to these ancient Indians, chocolate was what we would now call a superfood today.

However, by the 1800s, Dutch candy companies began combining the cocao powder and the cocoa butter together to make chocolate candies – which, of course, were then sweetened with sugar. Today’s typical chocolate candy bar filled with chemicals, corn syrup, dairy and sugar does not remotely resemble a health food, However, if you learn to swap these unhealthy chocolate candies for dark chocolates with minimal processing and sugar, you can actually gain some health benefits. Your dark chocolates should have be at least 65% cacao while you adjust your taste buds to go for 72%, 79% or even up to 85% cacao content. To the typical westerner marinated in sweet foods and drinks, the higher content, more bitter and dry chocolates are an acquired taste. If you learn to make your own raw chocolate candies with cacao powder, and things like stevia, coconut oil and essential oils, you can enjoy extremely healthy and delicious treats.

What are some of the benefits of healthy chocolate?

  1. Support fat burning: Catechins are antioxidants that are found in chocolate. They appear to help improve lean muscle mass and reduce weight. Can you believe that the right kind of dark chocolate can actually support weight management?
  1. Cardiovascular support: Studies have shown that some of the polyphenols in chocolate improve circulation and prevent blood clots to the tune of reducing heart attack and stroke by 39%.
  1. Memory boosting: Apparently some of the phenols in chocolate were shown to significantly improve mildly impaired cognitive abilities (thinking, remembering, reasoning…) In just 8 weeks.
  1. Cancer protective: at least in mouse studies, mice exposed to carcinogens, who were treated with cacao for 2 months, had statistically significant lower incidences of cancer- probably due to the chocolate’s high polyphenols content.

So, if, in your attempts to create and maintain a healing diet, you are struggling to cut down on sugar and sweets, a healthy version of chocolate treats can really help. Of course, we are only talking about a few ounces at a time and you have to forget about those name-brand candy bars you probably grew up on!  Read the labels or better yet, make your own.  Hint: adding a drop of peppermint or lemon or orange essential oil to your batch provides delicious varieties.

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