Indulge In Some Healthy Dark Chocolate!
This weekend, flowers and chocolate are found in abundance, and to make celebrations even sweeter, you can indulge knowing some of that chocolate really is good for you! The health benefits of chocolate come from its most integral ingredient – cocoa. Cocoa is a roasted, ground up, and processed version of the raw cacao bean. The more cocoa content in your chocolate bar, the healthier it is for you. Unfortunately, the cocoa ratio in milk chocolate is too low to show significant benefits. Milk chocolate step aside… Dark chocolate contains enough cocoa to count as a wonderful source of antioxidants called flavonoids. These flavonoids reduce inflammation, strengthen blood vessels, and protect the body’s cells from free radicals that can increase the risk for heart disease. So while you indulge in some chocolate covered strawberries this weekend (dark chocolate, of course), you’re actually doing your body a favor!
And if you already love dark chocolate and want to get even more benefits, try going straight to the source. The raw cacao bean contains even higher amounts of those flavonoids and is also a great source of magnesium, iron, fiber, and the compound Theobromine, which is a natural stimulant and can help lower blood pressure.
You can purchase cacao nibs (cacao beans that have been roasted, separated from their shell and broken up into smaller bits and are ready to eat out of the package) at some health food stores or online. Unprocessed cacao is bitter by itself and is an acquired taste when not combined with other foods. Try sprinkling some into granola, on top of your cereal, or blend some into a smoothie (sweeter foods will negate the bitterness of the nibs) for a chocolaty fix that is entirely good for you!