• Jennifer May Nutritionist

Yes you can eat chocolate every day! The top 5 health benefits of Cacao....


Here's a great tip for my dairy free followers, vegans and cleansers who are battling those chocolate cravings. When you're craving a sweet treat you're often lacking in protein and/or magnesium. Nourish your body with essential nutrients and the craving will usually go away.

But what if you can top up on the nutrients you are lacking while enjoying a healthy sweet treat? 2 for the price of one as they say! Is it true you can eat chocolate every day and even use it as a medicinal food?...

YES it is! I eat chocolate every single day, I use raw cacao in my smoothies, healthy treats and love experimenting with new recipes that offer healing and indulgence all in one.

Cake Cleanse is rich in recipes that do just this, there are even icecream substitutes which you can enjoy eating as often as you like (even daily)! With only natural, raw ingredients, these icecream substitutes offer powerful nutrients such as magnesium, potassium, polyphenols and antioxidants.

My favourite is the choc banana icecream and the Choc mud cake bites- YUM! These recipes are so simple, really delicious and actually more nutritious than you might realise.

You'll notice that health nuts like myself are all a little cuckoo about Cacao. It's for very good reason. This amazing substance originated as a powerful medicine before the significant transformation to the chocolate we all came to know, love and crave. Chocolate, in the way we knew it 10 years ago, came packaged with sugar, unhealthy trans fats, processed oils, preservatives, anticaking agents etc etc. This led to chocolate being feared and craved - we love it, our bodies crave it but we do consider it an unhealthy treat food, not an everyday food.

However the negative image is ONLY because of the cr@p we add to it! Cacao alone is an amazing, medicinal, healing and healthy food. Not only that it's a powerful tool that we can use to actively improve our mood, energy, bowel function and general health. Finally, we have come full circle and are once again appreciating Cacao for it's fabulous healing properties and even better - now we have found ways to enjoy both healing and nutritional value and it's delicious indulgent flavours.

Let's talk about just how cool this super-food really is, and the incredible nutrients it contains:

Polyphenols: Cacao contains about 380 known natural chemical compounds, 10 of which are "psychoactive compounds" meaning they have an effect on mood and/or brain function. In their natural state, cocoa beans are virtually inedible because of their high concentration of polyphenols, which gives them an extremely bitter flavour.

In cocoa and chocolate as we know it the polyphenol content might decrease from 100% to 10% due to processing. Raw cacao is the closest to the natural state available. Reported benefits of the polyphenols in cacao are:

  • Prevents oxidation of LDL cholesterol - effectively keeping the cholesterol you have healthy and safe. This helps to prevent damage to your arteries and plaque build-up. So if you have been advised you have high cholesterol, it is a good idea to begin increasing your consumption of antioxidants from foods like raw cacao.

  • Regulates and controls the immune response, some studies have even shown cacao to have anti-cancer effects.

  • Regulating appetite - the polyphenols in cacao are known for their assistance with regulating appetite. This is why you might find it difficult to consume large amounts of dark chocolate and is also one of the reasons that a small amount of chocolate following a meal became a common habit. Unfortunately the polyphenols responsible for this are reduced significantly in processing so you will not experience the same benefits from your standard milk chocolate. In addition, sugar increases appetite and most chocolate bars offer empty calories - driving further hunger as your body seeks the nutrients that it was "promised" when tasting the chocolate. So, in short, it's no to Dairy Milk, yes to home made chocolate treats using raw cacao.

Theobromine is a "Phyto" (plant) chemical. This beneficial phytochemical is a stimulant which increases circulation, can reduce blood pressure, improve lung function and increase energy without having any effects on the central nervous system like other stimulants (such as caffeine).

This makes theobromine or raw cacao a great choice for a healthy, energising boost - without the resultant crash or jitters. Theobromine is found in most types of chocolate but is in it's most potent in raw, unprocessed cacao.

Antioxidants: the antioxidant properties of Cacao are higher than green tea, red wine and many fresh fruits and vegetables.

Antioxidants are best known for the idea that they keep you young. Realistically - antioxidants are a necessary opposition to our general daily processes. Living causes oxidation, it's a natural consequence of growing, healing, digesting and even breathing.

The antioxidants we obtain from foods counteract this process. The more antioxidants the more protection our cells have and therefore the more resiliant and energetic we feel. Antioxidants are particularly important when you exercise frequently, are over 30, are under stress or unwell.

Magnesium - Cacao is an absolute powerhouse of magnesium hence why we often crave chocolate when we're running low. Magnesium deserves a blog of it's own and I've ear-marked this for another date. For now however let's just list the things that magnesium is necessary for:

  • Muscle relaxation,

  • Blood sugar absorption and control,

  • Hormonal regulation,

  • Stress management,

  • Sleep,

  • Production of many important enzymes,

  • Production of many of our "happy hormones" such as serotonin.

Anandamide: Known as "the bliss chemical". Cacao is the only known food source of this amazing food chemical. This is the reason chocolate makes you feel happy and is so addictive. When we eat cacao, the anandamide makes us feel loved - truly, this is further enhanced by the chemical phenylethylamine which is another food source of that "in love" feeling.

So with all of these wonderful health benefits and the powerful, blissful, loved-up feeling that it offers, why not eat chocolate every day?

There are plenty of fun and delicious ways to increase this valuable medicinal food in your diet. You'll find many sources right here in my blogs such as the Choc Avocado Mousse, Quinoa Flour Choc Muffins and fairly soon you'll find my "Make Your Own Vegan Chocolate" blog and recipe too. If you are interested in making more healthy treats and using this and many other medicinal foods to be truly, truly healthy, I would highly recommend the Cake Cleanse 4 week diet plan which allows chocolate and other healthy treats every day.

So get started, add cacao to your smoothies, enjoy a choc chia pudding, try the 2 ingredient choc banana ice cream or the choc mud cake bites from Cake Cleanse. And enjoy the happiness, health and energy that comes from eating chocolate every day. I know I will!.

Until next time, stay deliciously healthy and promise me you'll eat more chocolate.

Jennifer May Adv.Dip.Nut.Med.ATMS.MINDD

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