Good news! It has been found that dark chocolate reduces blood pressure and helps protect the heart and arteries from damage. Researchers from Louisiana State University (2014) discovered it does this by encouraging the growth of beneficial gut bacteria such as Bifidobacterium and lactic acid bacteria which feed on chocolate, fermenting the fibre, and producing anti-inflammatory compounds.
Dark chocolate is the one to go for as it has less sugar and no added dairy. I often like to have 2 squares of dark chocolate in the morning, enjoying them slowly. It may lift your mood and combating depression, by causing an increase in circulation and availability of serotonin and other neurotransmitters in the brain.
On a personal note, if I have too much dark chocolate i.e. 4-8 squares, especially in the afternoon, I can feel a bit jittery and even have poorer sleep that same night. Best to determine what level of caffeine (and other stimulants) in the chocolate, you can handle.
The oldest living woman on the planet who lives in Mexico was asked how she got to live to age 127. She said it was due to eating chocolate. I am pretty sure she does not mean the sugar and milk ladened variety that you and I are familiar with.
David Wolfe claimed, in his Women’s Wellness Conference 2014 that chocolate (raw) is THE number one longevity food. Some believe that the health giving benefits of chocolate are maximum when eaten as ‘raw’ chocolate, with higher levels of antioxidants and minerals. Researchers in Louisiana found that the less processed the chocolate the more able the bacteria were to produce anti-inflammatory compounds. I particularly like raw chocolate brands – Conscious Chocolate and Raw Chocolate Company from health food shops and online.
If you would prefer the benefits of this superfood without the sugar, try raw cocao nibs, offering a pure slightly bitter crunchy chocolate experience.
Tasty cocoa trail mix (chocolate substitute)
In a glass container mix one handful of each of the following:
- Raw cocoa nibs
- Goji berries
- Omega seed mix (pumpkin, sunflower, sesame and linseed)
Enjoy as a snack.