Cocoa is one of those things that God gave us that tastes awesome and is good for us. I could keep it at that, but it’s much more fun to learn just how good something is.
Dark chocolate is a preventative due to its high antioxidant content. Cocoa and dark chocolate are rich in antioxidant flavonoids called flavanols, which include procyanidins, epicatechins, and catechins. Chocolate, specifically dark chocolate (so yes, excludes white and milk chocolate varieties) with its rich flavanol content has the ability to help keep our cardiovascular systems in good shape. From lowering cholesterol, improving glucose metabolism, lowering risk of heart disease, reducing LDL oxidation, lowering blood pressure, increasing circulation, helping thin the blood, increasing nitric oxide production*, promoting more flexible arteries, and lowering C-reactive protein ( a biomarker of inflammation linked to heart disease) and a reduced risk of stroke to giving us an energy boost for that workout!
A 40 gram serving of dark chocolate will have 41.2 milligrams of flavanols. This is good. And unsweetened chocolate has twice that amount!
Not that you need ideas of how to get more chocolate into your diet, but here’s a general list:
- Pack a piece of dark chocolate (see kinds I recommend below) in your lunch bag, it’s a good reward after eating your hearty healthy lunch, right?
- Add a tablespoon of cocoa to smoothies; try in ones with banana and or berries and milk or even avocado
- Have a homemade mocha instead of just coffee
- include cocoa nibs or dark chocolate chips in your trail mix
- Use dark chocolate in all your chocolate recipes (choose unsweetened chocolate and chocolate with a cacoa percentage of 56% or higher)
- Make your own hot fudge sauce using dark chocolate and cocoa mixed with coconut oil and brown rice syrup. Melt all together in a pot with small amount of almond milk. Cook over low heat briefly to thicken.
You can easily make your own cocoa mix for daily use or buy a healthy one (not so easy to find though) Purchase mine here: thf facebook store, (if you’re in Massachusetts)if you like or try this spiced version below. For this recipe you will need to start with a mix or make your own real quick.
Spices offer their own nutritional benefits too. Actually cocoa can be considered a spice too. Turmeric has been long known for its endless benefits and only recently has gained tons of popularity and is see in teas, supplements, facial treatments and more).
With the multiple benefits of this delicious drink, you just have to try it! Check out the benefits of coconut oil, cardamom and cinnamon too!
Yield: 1 good size mug-full
- 2 tablespoons of your favorite healthy cocoa mix (preferably homemade)
- 3/4 cup boiling water
- 1/2 cup almond milk
- pinch turmeric
- pinch cardamom
- pinch cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon extra virgin coconut oil
- 1/2 teaspoon stevia powder ( I prefer Sweet Leaf), or to taste
- nutmeg, to garnish, optional
Put mix in a mug and add boiling water. Add remaining ingredients. Microwave for 20-30 seconds to bring it back to hot. Alternatively, put first 6 ingredients in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer. Stir in coconut oil and stevia.
Sip slowly and enjoy!
NOTE: as another alternative for preparation: Blend the cocoa/hot water mixture with the remaining ingredients in a blender, then add back to a pan and heat it up. You will end up with a nice frothy smooth beverage. Sprinkle with nutmeg and serve. See below:
Great Brands of Chocolate:
- Vanini dark chocolate with 74% Cocoa
- Perugina of Italy
- Whole Foods organic dark chocolate
- Trader Joe’s organic dark chocolate
- Trader Joes 72% dark chocolate imported from Belgium
Great Brands of unsweetened cocoa:
- Trader Joes Tumaco unsweetened cocoa
- Better Body organic Raw Cacoa
- Sunfood Raw Cacoa
Also, see my Dark Chocolate Board here: https://www.pinterest.com/fit2b/dark-chocolate/