With it being Valentine’s Day and all, it’s safe to say there’s a lot of chocolate in the air. But don’t let all that indulgent deliciousness fool you: chocolate is, in fact, a superfood.
Of course, not all chocolate is created equal. Many commercial brands strip chocolate of its benefits by overcooking it, adding dairy fats, excess sugar, and preservatives. But real, “raw” chocolate, known as cacao, has incredible benefits in small amounts. Sure it’ll please your taste buds, but check out some of the other ways cacao is good for your whole body:
Cardiovascular Protection: Numerous studies have shown that the antioxidants in chocolate — called flavonols — help lower blood pressure and relax blood vessels.
Relaxation: Magnesium is a mineral that helps relax muscles, and cacao is one of the highest sources of magnesium of all natural foods. Third party testing has shown some cacao powders to contain as much as 475 mg per 100 grams (the recommended daily intake for men is 400 mg and women 310mg).
Natural Sunscreen: The same favonols that enhance heart health also enhance skin health, by helping circulate blood to the surface of the body. Incredibly, researchers have found cacao may help protect against UV rays.
Mineral Rich: Cacao is high in many trace minerals, and is especially high in blood-building iron, and bone-strengthening calcium.
Mood Boost: Chocolate helps naturally increase seratonin production – the “good mood” chemical in the brain. It also contains other phytochemicals that have mood-elvating effects, like phenethylamine, which enhances the release of pleasurable endorphins.
Anti-Aging: Cacao offers cell protection like no other with its soaring levels of polyphenol antioxidants. Cacao powder has the most concentrated form of these antioxidants, which have tested up to a jaw-dropping 95,000 ORAC/100 grams. Compare that to antioxidant-rich blueberries, which average around 7,500 ORAC, and it’s easy to see why cacao is so impressive!
Remember, the higher the cacao content of your chocolate treats, the better. Get creative by making your own delectable concoctions, like my Mini Chocolate Cupcakes, or purchase high-quality ready-made chocolate with extra mindful ingredients.
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