Only until a year and a half ago I had no idea about the fact that chocolate is an extremely healthy food with so many benefits for the body, mind…and soul. I’ve always loved chocolate, the darker the better, but didn’t know a lot about all the amazing health benefits that chocolate has to offer. I started learning about it as part of the raw nutrition certification I’m studying, and have become increasingly fascinated with the history of chocolate, and the relationship humans have had with it for thousands of years.
I am talking about real chocolate, in its raw form – not the stuff laden with sugar and dairy abundant in grocery and convenience stores.
Unfortunately the process of roasting the beans, processing, and mixing them with sugar, dairy, and other inflammatory and toxic additives, severely diminish the health benefits of chocolate. I started making my own raw chocolate over a year ago and have never looked back.
Food of the Gods
Cacao, which the Mayans called Food of the Gods (Theobroma Cacao), is one of the most nutritious foods on the planet, and one of the highest ranked foods for longevity. It contains over 30 times more antioxidants than wild blueberries, and is one of the richest plants in magnesium and iron.
The Mayans and Aztecs valued chocolate so highly that cacao beans were used as currency, while gold was only used for aesthetic purposes. It was said that a cacao pod (contains about 20-30 cacao beans) could keep a family of 3 alive for a day – and that was precious in the Amazonian jungle, where cacao originated.
So without further due let’s look at the main health benefits that raw chocolate provides:
8 Health Benefits of Raw Chocolate
Chocolate supports cardiovascular health
The high content of magnesium in cacao, flavanols, combined with cardiovascular cleansing compounds like n-caffeoyldopamine and n-coumaroyldopamine, and theobromine, make chocolate a great food for your heart and the rest of the cardiovascular system.
Chocolate boosts your brain
The flavanols in cacao have been proven to increase brain blood flow, and enhance brain function especially in situations where individuals may be cognitively impaired, such as fatigue. The abundant antioxidants in cacao help protect brain cells against free radical damage, preventing them from aging prematurely.
Chocolate can make you happy!
Chocolate in the only plant food found to contain anandamine, an endorphin known as the bliss chemical, which our bodies produce naturally after exercise, making us feel great. It is also rich in serotonin, tryptophan, and phenylethylamines – the love chemicals. This makes chocolate a powerful natural anti-depressant. There’s an explanation for why you crave chocolate when you’re down!
Chocolate can help you lose weight!
Wait, what?! Since when? You better believe it. Chocolate is actually an appetite suppressant, due to the phenylethylamines and the significant concentration of magnesium. A lot of weight loss products contain chocolate in them, because it works! Who said that losing weight and being healthy equal deprivation from delicious foods you love?
Chocolate relaxes muscles and reduces cramps (including menstrual ones)
Magnesium is a muscle and nervous system relaxant, which 80% of North Americans are deficient in. Because of the abundance of magnesium in it, chocolate helps to relax muscles, increase peristalsis (bowel movements) and reduce cramps.
Contains a lot of fibre
Cacao contains a type of soluble fibre which helps cleanse the intestines and bulk up bowel movements, even when it’s blended, crushed and micronized. Constipation will become a thing of the past!
Cacao helps potentiate other superfoods and medicinal herbs
Cacao is an alchemist, and it was used for thousands of years as a delivery system for other superfoods and medicinal herbs and mushrooms to be more effectively absorbed in the body. The abundant antioxidants help enhance the properties of other medicinal foods and herbs, and as chocolate dilates the blood vessels, these are all better absorbed in the body.
Decreases the effects of ageing and increases longevity
The impressive antioxidant content that give chocolate its dark purple-brown colour make it one of the best foods for longevity. Antioxidants fight free radical damage, caused by pollutants, toxins, and also as a result of ongoing normal biochemical reactions in the body. Some of the people that live the longest have confessed to eating dark chocolate regularly.
So there you are – real chocolate is a powerful superfood that you can enjoy completely guilt-free as part of a healthy lifestyle. Whether eaten in form of cacao powder in smoothies, breakfast porridge (see the recipe I posted for delicious creamy chocolate coconut chia seed pudding), and healthy desserts, or in form of cacao nibs mixed in trail mixes, the possibilities of how you can enjoy the most beloved food on the planet, are endless.
If you enjoyed this post, I’d be eternally grateful if you share it with the people in your life that love chocolate (and I can guarantee you that they will be too).
PS: Want to learn how you can make raw chocolate goodies in your own kitchen? I run regular workshops in Halifax that have been wildly popular and successful. Check out the event calendar in the sidebar on the right for upcoming events.
PPS: I also offer private in-home chocolate parties! Imagine having the best time ever with your friends, indulging 100% guilt-free in raw chocolate, fudge, and other chocolatey goodies… I’ll bring the ingredients, make the chocolate, you just worry about eating it and having a ton of fun! Sounds like a dream? I can make it happen – just send me a message!
With lots of chocolatey love,
- Cocoa: a sweet treat for the brain? Harvard Health Publications http://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/cocoa-sweet-treat-brain-201502057676
- Cocoa and Cardiovascular Health- Roberto Corti, MD; Andreas J. Flammer, MD; Norman K. Hollenberg, MD, PhD; Thomas F. Lüscher, MD http://circ.ahajournals.org/content/119/10/1433.full
- Theobroma cacao L., the Food of the Gods: A scientific approach beyond myths and claims – Scholarly Articles Google – M. Rusconi ∗, A. Conti http://www.worldcocoafoundation.org/wp-content/uploads/files_mf/rusconi2010.pdf
- Raw Cacao Process – How to Make Chocolate with Sunfood https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o6GGMXDbl3U\
- David Cacao Wolfe on Sacred Chocolate: The Best Raw Organic Chocolate on Earth! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NnsUmOiF-I4
- Cocoa, chocolate and cardiovascular disease – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2797556/
- Daily Consumption of a Dark Chocolate Containing Flavanols and Added Sterol Esters Affects Cardiovascular Risk Factors in a Normotensive Population with Elevated Cholesterol – http://jn.nutrition.org/content/138/4/725.abstract
- Effects of chocolate intake on Perceived Stress; a Controlled Clinical Study – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4350893/