I don’t know about you, but I am a HUGE chocolate lover! You may be surprised to know that I always tell my clients that they can satisfy their sweet tooth with 70% or higher dark chocolate. A little dark chocolate never hurt anybody! Of course, you have to use your better judgement but REAL chocolate actually has numerous health benefits!
From Authority Nutrition:
- Dark Chocolate is Very Nutritious – If you buy quality dark chocolate with a high cocoa content, then it is actually quite nutritious. It contains a decent amount of soluble fiber and is loaded with minerals. A 100 gram bar of dark chocolate with 70-85% cocoa contains (1):
- 11 grams of fiber.
- 67% of the RDA for Iron.
- 58% of the RDA for Magnesium.
- 89% of the RDA for Copper.
- 98% of the RDA for Manganese.
- It also has plenty of potassium, phosphorus, zinc and selenium.
Of course, 100 grams (3.5 ounces) is a fairly large amount and not something you should be consuming daily. All these nutrients also come with 600 calories and moderate amounts of sugar. For this reason, dark chocolate is best consumed in moderation. The fatty acid profile of cocoa and dark chocolate is excellent. The fats are mostly saturated and monounsaturated, with small amounts of polyunsaturates. It also contains stimulants like caffeine and theobromine, but is unlikely to keep you awake at night as the amount of caffeine is very small compared to coffee.
- Dark Chocolate is a Powerful Source of Antioxidants – Dark chocolate is loaded with organic compounds that are biologically active and function as antioxidants. These include polyphenols, flavanols, catechins, among others. One study showed that cocoa and dark chocolate contained more antioxidant activity, polyphenols and flavanols than other fruits they tested, which included blueberries and Acai berries (2). Cocoa and dark chocolate have a wide variety of powerful antioxidants, way more than most other foods.
- Dark Chocolate May Improve Blood Flow and Lower Blood Pressure – The bioactive compounds in cocoa can improve blood flow in the arteries and cause a small but statistically significant decrease in blood pressure.
- Dark Chocolate Raises HDL and Protects LDL Against Oxidation – Consuming dark chocolate can improve several important risk factors for heart disease. In a controlled trial, cocoa powder was found to significantly decrease oxidized LDL cholesterol in men. It also increased HDL and lowered total LDL in men with elevated cholesterol (9). Dark chocolate can also reduce insulin resistance, which is another common risk factor for many diseases like heart disease and diabetes (14, 15).
- Dark Chocolate May Lower The Risk of Cardiovascular Disease – The compounds in dark chocolate appear to be highly protective against the oxidation of LDL. In the long term, this should cause much less cholesterol to lodge in the arteries and we should see a lower risk of heart disease over the long term. In a study of 470 elderly men, cocoa was found to reduce the risk of cardiovascular death by a whopping 50% over a 15 year period (16). Another study revealed that eating chocolate 2 or more times per week lowered the risk of having calcified plaque in the arteries by 32%. Eating chocolate less frequently had no effect (17). Yet another study showed that chocolate 5+ times per week lowered the risk of cardiovascular disease by 57% (18).
- Dark Chocolate May Improve Brain Function – The good news isn’t over yet. Dark chocolate may also improve the function of the brain. One study of healthy volunteers showed that 5 days of consuming high-flavanol cocoa improved blood flow to the brain (21). Cocoa may also significantly improve cognitive function in elderly people with mental impairment. It also improves verbal fluency and several risk factors for disease (22).
With all those health benefits, you can have your chocolate and actually feel good about it!! Here’s a super healthy chocolate mousse recipe that takes just minutes to put together!
Chocolate Chia Pudding
I’ve talked about the health benefits of chia
- 1 can coconut milk – alternately you could use almond milk but I love the creamy, mousse-like consistency that the coconut milk provides!
- ¼ cup chia seeds
- 2 Tbs Chocolate Powder
- 1 dropper full Cocoa Extract
- 2 droppers full Vanilla Stevia
Blend all ingredients EXCEPT chia seeds in a blender to mix. Taste and make adjustments as needed. In a glass bowl add chia seeds to the blended chocolate mixture and stir with a spoon. Let sit for 2 hours in the fridge to thicken, or overnight. Garnish with fresh berries and enjoy!
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