Chocolate 101: Health Benefits that You Might Not Know About - Plus a Smoothie Recipe!
How much chocolate did you get on Valentine’s Day?
I am a chocoholic so on Valentine’s day and my birthday I stock up on it. When you hear chocolate what do you think of? Is it your favorite candy bar? Or the medicinal bean it originated from? It is much more common to ramble off the candy we see in grocery stores and commercials before we begin to unravel the different types of chocolate.
The different varieties include:
-Cacao (raw chocolate)
-Unsweetened Chocolate (also known as baking chocolate)
-Bittersweet Chocolate (or dark chocolate)
-Semisweet Chocolate (dark chocolate with added sugar and cocoa butter)
-Milk Chocolate (low levels of pure chocolate)
-Sweet Baking Chocolate
-Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
-White Chocolate (legally not even a chocolate!)
Cacao is a derived from cacao beans, or the initial raw form of chocolate. These beans are the seeds of the cacao tree. Commercially, you may see them in the form of cacao nibs, cacao butter, cacao paste, or cacao powder. Cacao powder is cold pressed unroasted cacao beans. The enzymes in the cocoa are retained while the fat is removed. Cocoa powder, however, is very different. Although it looks similar, cocoa powder is processed with high temperature roasting which reduces the enzymatic activity and nutritional value of the bean. This is important to recognize when you’re researching the health of chocolate. This begins the milk vs. dark chocolate debate…
Milk chocolate contains significantly less health-promoting cacao bean in comparison to dark chocolate. Milk chocolate of course has some or else it wouldn’t legally be considered a type of chocolate. However, it is diluted with milk solids, sugar, and cream. The nutritional quality of this kind of chocolate is minimal, especially when matching it to its dark counterpart. This is important to consider because the health benefits of chocolate are directly related to the amount of cacao that is present. Overall, dark chocolate is a much healthier option since it provides much more antioxidants and nutrition and less added sugars and fat.
A few things to look for when trying to pick out the best chocolate are: The cacao percentage varieties with at least 65% cacao are recommended. The presence of any additives. Check the ingredient label for any added sugars, chemicals, GMO-emulsifiers, alkali processing, and heavy metals. This will require a little research, but some brands of chocolate have been found to contain heavy metals that pose a potential health risk. My uncle used to sell his Chocomaca from the Amazon Herb Company. It was the best because he added some wonderful herbs to it like Camu Camu. Maca, and blue algae. When my son, Noah was 2 we would buy it, and this was his first chocolate experience. He loved it!! My uncle John would get Maca from South America. Now you are able to find cacao and maca powder at most health food stores. I buy my maca and cacao from Sunfoods online.
Maca is a root that has a long tradition of supporting adrenal function, uplifting energy levels, and encouraging normal hormone function. It's high in minerals like calcium, potassium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, and zinc. It also contains up to 20 essential fatty acids, lipids, fiber, carbohydrates, and amino acids.
Since I can no longer buy Chocamaca I now make my own concoction of cacao and maca smoothie and energy balls. Remember, both these recipes give you energy so eat or drink them in the morning or as an afternoon pick me up. Both these recipes are vegan, raw, and gluten-free goodness. Enjoy!
Ingredients for my Chocamaca smoothie
- 8-12 oz almond or coconut milk
- 1/2 frozen banana (or avocado if avoiding sugar)
- 1/4 c cashews
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 serving of vegan protein powder
- 2 tsp cacao powder
- 2 tsp maca powder
- 1 pinch Himalayan pink salt
Add 1/2 cup of blueberries or strawberries on top.
Blend together ingredients. Enjoy daily as your morning or afternoon energy boost.
Ingredients for my Chocamaca Energy balls
· 15 Medjool dates
· 1 cup almonds
· 2 tablespoons cacao powder
· 3 tablespoons maca powder
· 2 teaspoons Saigon cinnamon
· 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
· Shredded unsweetened coconut
1. Remove the pits from dates and soak them in hot water for 5-7 minutes. When the dates are softened, drain them and place in a food processor or blender. Save the water to possibly use later.
2. Add the other ingredients and process until mixture begins to thicken and stick together.
3. Check texture by pinching a bit between your fingers. It should be sticky and able to keep its shape. If the mixture is too dry, add 1 Tablespoon more water in which you have soaked the dates.
4. With the teaspoon scoop the mixture and roll into small balls. Roll individual balls in shredded coconut to coat.
Dark chocolate can offer many different benefits when consumed in moderation.
Some benefits include:
• Many essential nutrients
• Powerful antioxidants
• Heart-healthy boosting properties
• Lowered blood pressure
• Improves cholesterol
• Stroke prevention
• Diabetes prevention and management
• Skin protection
• Increased cognitive function
• Reduced stress
• Weight maintenance
• Boosted athletic performance and so much more!
When consumed in moderation, a good quality dark chocolate with a high cocoa content can provide a decent amount of nutrients! For example, a 100 gram, or 3.5-ounce bar of dark chocolate with 70-85% cocoa offers 11 grams of soluble fiber, 98% of the recommended daily allowance (RDA) of Manganese, 89% of the RDA of Copper, 67% of the RDA for Iron, 58% of the RDA for Magnesium, healthy monounsaturated fats, and many other important minerals such as potassium, phosphorus, zinc, and selenium. However, eating this much chocolate daily is not necessarily recommended. 3.5 ounces of chocolate equates to an approximately 600 calories and plenty of sugar. In moderation, however, you are still able to benefit from the nutritional profile in this sweet treat!
Antioxidants are powerful substances responsible for protecting cells against oxidative stress, or otherwise known as free radicals. The Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity, or ORAC, is the measurement of the antioxidant activity in foods. To determine this value, researches expose samples of food to free radicals and observe how well the antioxidants work against them. While there is some question in the validity of this method of experimentation since the reactions found in a test tube are not necessarily the same as they would be in a human body, it still offers a unit of measurement to compare different food’s antioxidant content. Unprocessed cocoa beans score very high on this test, insinuating a high volume of biological active antioxidants. In fact, one study showed that cocoa contained more antioxidant activity, including polyphenols, flavanols, and catechins, compared to other fruits tested such as known-superfoods!
Many studies are emerging in favor of chocolate’s positive role in heart health. In Sweden, more than 31,000 women ate 1-2 servings of dark chocolate each week for 9 years. Their risk of heart failure decreased by a third! A recent study conducted in Germany found that eating a square of dark chocolate each day reduced the risk of heart attack and stroke by 39 percent! The Zutpten Elderly Study of The Netherlands showed that consuming cocoa reduces the risk of cardiovascular death by 50% over a 15-year period! Another study, conducted in the United States, concluded that eating chocolate more than 5 times a week reduces risk of cardiovascular disease by 57%! The findings of these studies are incredible claims for fighting what is now the number one killer in the United States, heart disease.
Eating chocolate to protect your heart sounds a little bit too good to be true, although it’s not! There are many ways that chocolate offers this super power. First off, dark chocolate appears to increases HDL (good) cholesterol and lower LDL (bad) cholesterol in the bloodstream. Over time, this causes less cholesterol to clog the arteries of the heart, a major contributor to heart disease. Consuming dark chocolate can also lower blood pressure, improve blood flow to the heart, and aid in blood clotting.
Much like chocolate’s connection with cardiovascular disease, dark chocolate can also reduce the risk of stroke significantly. Because of cocoa’s ability to improve blood vessel health, blood flows easier and more efficiently to the brain. In a Canadian study, the individual's eating chocolate regularly were 22% less likely to suffer from a stroke versus those who did not eat chocolate. Also, those who had a stroke already, but consumed chocolate on a regular basis, had a 46% less chance of their stroke being fatal.
Italian researchers studied the relationship between dark chocolate and diabetes and the results were surprisingly in favor of the sweet treat! In fact, dark chocolate showed to increase nitric oxide production, improve markets of insulin sensitivity, and decrease fasting insulin and glucose levels. Of course, these benefits are present only when eaten in moderation. A square or two every other day or so is efficient (and delicious)!
The flavanols, or the phytonutrient compound found in cocoa, contributes to sun protection for your skin. Research conducted in London addressed how these flavanols affected how the sudden and intense a sunburn developed on the participants of the study. Those who were consuming chocolate with high flavanols took twice as long to develop the initial reddening of a sunburn versus those who were eating other low-flavanol chocolate. While dark chocolate should not be your main skin protection, it does help out! If you are planning to be in the sun for an extended period of time, think of adding some dark chocolate in your diet to utilize these skin-protecting benefits.
Eating sweets such as chocolate is usually shamed in the diet world. We are accustomed to equating our weight gain on anything that remotely seems like dessert, right? However, researchers at the University of Copenhagen may change your mind. According to their studies, dark chocolate lessens cravings for sweet, salty, and fatty foods. Therefore, indulging in a moderate amount of healthy dark chocolate can help you stay on task for weight management by making it overall easier to stick to a diet. That’s a win, win if you ask me!
One of the flavanols in dark chocolate is epicatechin, which increases the production of nitric oxide in the body. In a study conducted in London, cyclists who were consuming epicatechin-rich dark chocolate used less oxygen when cycling at a moderate pace compared to those who ate white chocolate instead. This research suggests that dark chocolate is most beneficial for endurance athletes to help boost performance and be as efficient as possible during long events. According to James Brouner, a sport analysis lecturer, "When performing endurance-based activity, being as economical as possible in energy provision is key to enhancing your performance. From our results, the consumption of dark chocolate has altered the participants' response to the activity and therefore could enhance their endurance performance."
More health benefits associated with consuming dark chocolate include: skin detoxification, reduction in hair loss, improved mood, anemia care, cough relief, PMS cramp alleviation, positive neurological impact, improves vision, and remedy for digestive distress. Which one of these surprised you the most?
Too much of a good thing can still be harmful. While dark chocolate offers plenty of health benefits, it still has a fairly high calorie count and often a sizable amount of sugar. Therefore, it is best to be mindful that you consume this superfood in moderation!
I love sharing this topic with people who are chocolate lovers (like me) and who are eager to make more informed choices regarding their health! As a special thank you for inviting us to guide you on your health journey, I’d like to invite you to my live event coming up.
On Saturday, February 24, 2018 from 10 am-3 pm we will have our No More Meds Live event at the Rolling Hills Country Club in Monroe, NC for only $49.00. Lunch will be Provided with a Swag bag and Prize Giveaways Including a Blendtec Blender, my exclusive #NoMoreMeds Roller bottle blends, and some healthy supplements.
I will share and expand upon the most important points contained in my book, No More Meds.
I will address solutions to some of the most common obstacles to achieving better health naturally. Have you ever wished you could just afford natural health, felt overwhelmed by the amount of planning involved in eating a healthy diet, given up trying to grocery shop or prepare meals accordingly, or in general just wished you knew how to achieve a healthier, happier life? Click on the link to join us. http://drcorinneweaver.synduit.com/GHNM0001
If you can’t come to my “Live event” you can still benefit with my 30-day online seminar for $29. You can sign up here. https://www.mybodysite.com/dr-corinne/no-more-meds-seminar-plan
I hope my column speaks to you and you can wake up each morning with a purpose. What I do every day is a calling, and I give God the glory for allowing His gifts to work through me. I do believe in miracles, because I get to see them every day! If you would like to contact me with your health concerns email me directly at Dr@drcorinneweaver.com. For more information you can go to www.DrCorinneWeaver.com or sign up for my closed Facebook group #NoMoreMeds-Community for more healthy tips https://m.facebook.com/groups/1845828392308723 .
Dr. Corinne Weaver
Dr. Corinne Weaver is a compassionate upper cervical chiropractor, educator, motivational speaker, mother of three, and internationally bestselling author. In 2004, she founded the Upper Cervical Wellness Center in Indian Trail, North Carolina. Over the last 13 years, she has helped thousands of clients restore their brain to-body function. When she was 10 years old, she lost her own health as the result of a bike accident that led to having asthma and allergy issues that she thought she would always have to endure. Then, after her first upper cervical adjustment at age 21, her health began to improve thanks to upper cervical care and natural herbal remedies. This enabled her to create a drug-free wellness lifestyle for herself and her family, and she also enthusiastically discovered her calling to help children heal naturally.
Dr. Weaver was recently named one of Charlotte Magazine's "Top Doctors" in 2016 and is now a number-one internationally bestselling author to two books: Learning How to Breathe and No More Meds.
Upper Cervical Wellness Center is known for finding the root cause of health concerns through lifestyle changes, diagnostic testing, nutraceutical supplementation, and correction of subluxation (as opposed to just medicating the symptoms). The practice offers cutting-edge technological care at its state-of-the-art facility, including laser-aligned upper cervical X-rays, bioimpedance analysis (measures body composition), digital thermography (locates thermal abnormalities characterized by skin inflammation), and complete nutritional blood analysis, which is focused on disease prevention.