I am a chocolate addict. I have chocolate everyday in one way or another. But, I had to learn the hard way to use it appropriately to avoid altering my health or increasing my weight.
Cocoa beans are the roasted seeds of the cacao tree and, yes, it is used to make delicious chocolate bars and baking goods. Unfortunately, if ingredients in cocoa can be healthy, the high-calorie chocolate bars or cakes that contain it aren’t necessarily good for you.
But if you use Cocoa without adding too much sugar or fat, it can be a health Booster.
Cocoa is rich in minerals such as iron, magnesium, calcium, phosphorous, copper and manganese, which are necessary to our health. It contains antioxidants which help to neutralize the oxygen-based free radicals that are present in our body.
Cocoa contains also flavonoids, specifically catechin, epicatechin, and procyanidins, which have been shown in studies to have beneficial effects on heart disease risks, as well as on blood flow to the brain.
These flavonoids have anti-inflammatory properties, help the cardiovascular system and improve blood flow, reducing blood pressure and preventing blood clots. At the same time, they lower unhealthy LDL cholesterol, and increase the healthy HDL cholesterol. They also decrease insulin resistance, which is associated with type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
In other words, cocoa flavonoids may counteract the high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and other factors that contribute to a heart attack.
Studies are also showing that cocoa may be healthy for the brain. It improves the blood flow to parts of the brain needed for memory and thinking, and appear to play some brain-protective role.
Cocoa, as strange as it could be, is also a mood enhancer. It can help reduce anxiety.
To get the health advantages of cocoa without the fat and calories, you can buy a more concentrated cocoa product such as a supplement or indulge on small portions of dark chocolate with at least 70% cocoa concentration. I, personally, love dark cocoa in hot milk or homemade chocolate pudding with low sugar content.
Trust me, it’s easy to learn to like chocolate without sugar and the taste without the guilt is priceless!