By our wellbeing and fitness expert Orjiugo Oguguo. Owner of Live In Wellness
4 things you didn’t know about chocolate that should give you the green light to indulge – (healthily)
- Chocolate help you eat less – Researchers have found that eating 40g of dark chocolate every day helps women reduce their stress hormone – cortisol levels, as well as anxiety, which usual leads to stress-induced overeating. Chocolate can also improve your mood by boosting serotonin and endorphin levels in the brain. I knew chocolate = happiness. I just knew it. Another study found that dark chocolate offers a feeling of satiety that’s more than its lighter-colored sibling –milk chocolate. White chocolate is not chocolate. Wait…what? Back to dark choccies – they lessen cravings for sweet, salty, and fatty foods. So dark chocolate not only makes it easy for you to stick to the small portion recommended for optimal health, but also makes it easier to stick to your clean eating lifestyle in general. Score!
- Can give you a healthier heart – The main source of fat in chocolate, cocoa butter, contains oleic acid. Oleic acid is a naturally occurring monounsaturated fatty acid found in many plant sources and animal products. It is an omega-9 fatty acid, and as such, is considered one of the healthier sources of fat. It lowers the susceptibility of LDL to oxidative damage (bad cholesterol) while increasing HDL and improving insulin sensitivity. Research suggests that dark chocolate also improves several important risk factors for disease and backs up claims that chocolate has cardiovascular benefits. This isn’t an excuse you skip your workout. Chocolate and exercise actually work surprisingly well together. Eating chocolate high in healthy antioxidants has been proven to reduce the blood pressure-raising effects of exercise on overweight individuals.
- Is loaded with antioxidants – Dark chocolate is loaded with organic compounds that function as antioxidants including flavonoids; flavonoids are part of a group of antioxidants known as polyphenols found in foods like berries, leafy greens, red wine, and teas. One study showed that cocoa and dark chocolate contained more antioxidant activity, polyphenols and flavanols than blueberries and acai berries.
- Is better bitter – natural, unsweetened cocoa powder is sugar-free, gluten-free, low in fat, dairy-free and higher in antioxidants than other chocolates, but it’s also a smidge bitter…maybe more than a smidge. Alkalising or Dutch-processing (you’ll see these on chocolate labels) chocolate mellows the bitterness, but reduces the antioxidant potency. So, for cooking and baking, opt for non-alkalised cocoa powder and for pure chocolate indulgence, opt for the highest percentage of raw cocoa you can tolerate – 70% or more.