Think you can’t include chocolate in a healthy diet? Think again. We’re here to show you how.
Yep, you read that right. We want you to be eating more chocolate, or at least chocolate’s healthier older sister.
Cacao is chocolate’s raw form, while the cocoa found in our favourite cakes and Cadbury has been chemically processed, roasted, and often combined with genetically modified ingredients. Meaning all the good, superfood benefits have been erased.
Superfood is the perfect word for cacao, which has been used for centuries both for its natural sweetness and for its health benefits. In fact, the Aztec and Mayan cultures used it in royal medicinal rituals, and the more we learn about health, the more we learn that the ancients knew their stuff. After all, it’s rare that you find something naturally sweet that’s also packed with more antioxidants than any other naturally produced food in the world and the most iron you’ll find in any plant-based foods.
In case you need an excuse to sneak some more cacao into your diet — aim for up to four teaspoons a day— here are some of our favourite health benefits:
Go Forth and Glow
One of the biggest consequences of a chocolate binge is blotchy skin: cocoa, however, does the opposite. Loaded with flavonols, it promotes better circulation, increased oxygen saturation, improved hydration, and enhanced elasticity.
A London study also found that those who ate at least 20 grams of cacao over a 12-week period were able to stay in the sun twice as long with getting sunburnt than those who didn’t. Sulphur within the mineral will take care of the rest of you, making your nails strong and your hair shiny. We can’t really argue with something that will keep you looking fresh, even if you’ve overdone it at the beach last weekend.
We’ve already written how a plant-based diet (switching up your diet? Our Soulara meals make staying, or going, vegan easy) can help improve your mood naturally, and cacao is just one more nutrient that will keep you smiling.
Cacao is packed with phenylethylamine (PEA), a chemical that helps improve energy, focus, and mood and releases dopamine. Sound familiar? That guy is responsible for the feeling we get when we first fall in love.
Magnesium is the nutrition’s world current star, for good reason. The mineral is a friend to all aspects of your body, from your heart to your nervous system to your bones to your brain, and extremely high levels are found in cacao.
One of its best benefits? It will keep you energised, thanks to a compound called theobromine that will make you feel like you’ve just had a strong latte, sans jitters and crash.
Chocolate is often the culprit for weight gain; cacao is responsible for the opposite. It possesses MAO inhibitors, which help naturally diminish your appetite — try drinking a cup before a meal to prevent overeating. Those same inhibitors are also associated with weight loss and maintenance. Thanks to the flavonoids, fat-like substances will be prevented from clogging the arteries, strengthening your immune system while keeping your blood pressure and cholesterol in check.
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