Did you know that chocolate CAN be good for you and you can even eat it to help support your weight loss journey… I know, thank me later. Real chocolate, Cacao (pronounced ka-kow), actually comes from the beans of the Cacao fruit (yes chocolate is derived from the cacao beans which are grown inside that white flesh in the pods above). Chocolate becomes unhealthy when you start to alter and process cacao, such as heating and processing, as it destroys most of the health promoting nutrients and anti-oxidants – which is why you want to opt for raw ‘cacao’ over processed and heated ‘cocoa’ products.
No that you probably need much convincing to eat chocolate, but below are the reasons that chocolate (cacao) is actually good for you (other than it’s beautiful taste):
- Cacao has been used for thousands of years for its healing properties some of which include its ability to repair damage caused by toxins and free radicals
- It is of the highest food sources of antioxidants and magnesium (containing 124% of your daily magnesium needs per 100g; helpful for when those period cramps or symptoms kick in). The antioxidant powers of cacao is even 4x that of dark chocolate and 20x that of blueberries.
- It contains flavonoids, healthy omega-6 fatty acids, dietary fibre (33g per 100g!) calcium, sulphur, iron, fibre, chromium, tryptophan, and manganese (in fact it has over 300 chemical compounds in it, including 20g protein per 100g ).
- It helps with cardiovascular health, boosting energy levels, reducing sugar cravings (in turn helping with overeating and leading to weight loss) has longevity properties, can increase your libido, and improve your mood (and depression) by boosting levels of serotonin in your brain.
- It is also known to help reduces your risk of strokes and reduce blood pressure
The Aztecs even used it as a form of currency due to it’s medicinal and aphrodisiac properties!
Below are my 5 favourite ways to get this superfood into your diet – the easiest way is in nib, bean, powder, or cacao butter form.
1. GREEN CHOCOLATE SMOOTHIE/MYLKSHAKE
Add cacao powder or nibs to smoothies to make a super healthy and energy boosting dessert like drink. Try this recipe out for a healthy breakfast or post workout snack (getting all that magnesium from the cacao). Simply add all to a blender and get drinking:
- 1 frozen banana
- 1-2 Tbsp cacao powder
- 1.5 cups coconut or nut milk or water
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 2 Tbsp chia seeds or flax seeds
- 2 handfuls of baby spinach
- 1 cup ice
2. RAW CHOCOLATE
Its amazing how simple combining raw honey/rice malt syrup/coconut nectar, melted coconut oil, and cacao powder is – and this provides you with delicious real chocolate that tastes better than the processed nutritionally void stuff. Simply combine equal amounts of each till smooth then place in the freezer to set for 15 minutes (get creative and add fillings like these caramello stuffed chocolate cups from the 120 Cleanse).
3. HARDENED TOPPING ON FROZEN BERRIES/BANANA ICE-CREAM
As a child I was obsessed with an ice-cream topping called “ice-magic.” You poured it on your ice-cream and it hardened in a few seconds – then you got to peel it off in big chunks – It was exciting times. So why not make healthier memories as an adult (or change your little ones memories) and mix up 1 TBsp melted coconut oil, 1 TBsp cacao powder, 1/2 TBsp raw honey then use as a dipping for strawberries or pour over banana ice-cream (literally frozen bananas blended) until solid.
4. CACAO NIBS
What would a post on chocolate be without reference to brownies. Typical brownies are choc-full (see what I did there!?) of shit – but real brownies don’t have to be. Get the recipe for this protein packed one (sneaky extra health food here – black beans are the main ingredient) here.
What’s your favourite cacao fix? Pop a comment below and let me know.
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