Wally’s Natural, Auburn, CA Date: 3.29.2011
Author: Allison White
Chocolate as a Health Food?
Can Chocolate actually be healthy and help with my Blood Pressure?
Hey, Doc – I need a prescription!
This is great news to Chocolate lovers like me, and those who worry about Diabetes risk and Heart health. Cocoa consumption was found to improve blood pressure, insulin resistance and sensitivity, blood vessel health, and helped with cholesterol health, according to a recent Harvard Medical School Study of 2,575 participants.*
I find that I crave a daily dose of semi-sweet bliss, and now I don’t have to feel any guilt. I call it a “food friend with benefits” and my drug of choice.
The sensory experience of the silky texture melting in your mouth is indulgent, but as well as “mouthfeel”, it also helps” brainfeel”. Cacao releases tension and invokes a joyous state of mind due to its effect on our neurotransmitters. It also has antioxidants as well as minerals such as magnesium and theobrone.
There are “Best in Class” varieties, as far as health benefits go. I prefer chocolate made with organic raw cocoa and cocoa butter or coconut oil, sweetened with organic agave. The reason chocolate is considered by many as a “candy” and “decadent and bad” is because often the chocolatier adds ingredients that are not considered healthy, such as refined sugar, and the cocoa bean is processed at high temperatures, destroying many of the nutrients.
Until recently I didn’t know the difference between raw and “regular” chocolate. I didn’t know that nibs were pieces of cracked cocoa beans, and I didn’t know that raw meant cooking or dehydrating less than 118 degrees. I’ve used agave, honey and Stevia for years. agave is my favorite sweetener because of its low glycemic index and flavor. I think chocolate sweetened with Stevia tasted more delicious than sugar-sweetened chocolate.
After “sampling” treats at the Natural Products Expo I now know that not only are fruits and nuts good additions to chocolates and truffles, but also herbs and Superfoods like Acai and Aronia berry. Some organic chocolate companies are adding chili and salt and other unusual but tasty ingredients.
Remember childhood days of hot chocolate? Indulge the memories and try some hot and healthy chocolate after dinner tonight. Unlike coffee, it is not as acidic and it relaxes, rather than stimulates. I blend vanilla almond milk, a teaspoon of protein powder, a squeeze of agave nectar and a spoon full of organic dried cocoa powder.
Since Easter is around the corner, here are a few “Blender Benders” Easy Truffles (without refined sugar or milk).
1 cup of dates, few T. hot water, and ¼ cup melted coconut oil,-blend till creamy-move to bowl and add ¼ cup of cacao, dash of vanilla extract & agave to taste. I never measure, so this can be adjusted to your preferred texture and taste. When thick and creamy and before it hardens, roll spoon size truffles in cacao powder or dried shredded coconut.
If you like experimenting, tahini and cashew butter make healthy truffle fillings mixed with cacao butter. Add vanilla, agave, raspberries, cranberries or dried blueberries, and some melted coconut oil and make into rounds and spoon over with semi-sweet chocolate.
If you want a source to buy great organic chocolate, here are my fav’s:
Enjoy this Incredible Spring sunshine,
Health and happiness, Allison