I’ve yet to find someone who doesn’t like chocolate in some form or other. The problem is the form in which we consume our chocolate really does dictate how healthy it is for us. Being given the green light to eat chocolate is great news but it’s only healthy if we eat it in the right form. By “right” I mean eating it in its purest form or as pure as you can so that you have optimal enjoyment still.
If I were to tell you that cacao – the form of chocolate that we would all ideally be basing our healthier chocolate choices on – provides the highest source of antioxidants of all foods, wouldn’t that make chocolate even more appealing? That’s great news for those of us who live stressful lives and may even be dealing with health conditions that result in more, potentially-harmful, free radicals roaming around our bodies. Antioxidants act like little pacmen going round the grid eating up our excess free radicals.
The Mood-Boosting Aphrodisiac
Chocolate also contains anandamide which is known to be a natural euphoric compound (that explains so much about my relationship with chocolate), arginine which is known to have an aphrodisiac effect on the body 😉 and tryptophan which is known to boost the levels of the happy hormone serotonin. With so many mood-boosting positives it’s obvious why the right kind of chocolate gets a good name.
Weight Loss Benefits
You must think I am having you on but I am serious when I say that due to the chromium content of cacao and cocoa it can actually help with managing weight and also with helping you to control your blood sugar levels.
Cacao versus cocoa
Cacao powder is the raw form of chocolate. That means it has been processed at heat lower than or equal to 45 degrees centigrade. The benefits of this are that it maintains the antioxidants, enzymes and other nutrients that more processed chocolate doesn’t. Cacao is slightly better than cocoa from this perspective. Having said that is your budget stretches only as far as cocoa don’t worry. Cocoa has similar benefits although to a slightly lesser degree due to being heat-treated.
HOW TO ENJOY…..
We know that cacao and cocoa can be health-giving if used in the right way. Here are a couple of my favourite ways to use cacao or cocoa in two very popular home-made recipes:
Healthy Hot Chocolate
Up to 1 tbsp cacao or cocoa (unsweetened) powder
250ml milk or plant-based milk heated in a frother or whisked whilst being gently heated
1 tsp maple syrup or raw honey
2 drops of orange oil (food grade only)
Stir the cacao and syrup or honey together with the orange oil. You may need a couple of drops of water to make a paste. Stir in the heated and frothed milk and serve.
You can make this in any quantity you want it’s all about getting the ratios right.
The ratio I use is 3-4 tbsp hazelnut butter:1 tbsp cacao:½ tsp maple syrup