Health Benefits of Chocolate
Studies have linked the flavanols in cocoa, the key ingredient in chocolate — more potent in dark chocolate — with the following health benefits:
- Reduces the risk of heart disease.
- Helps lower blood pressure.
- Improves vascular function, reducing the risk of stroke and heart attack.
- Reduces the risk of diabetes.
- Promotes alertness. Chocolate contains stimulants — phenylethylamine, caffeine, theobromine, and tyramine — that give the brain a temporary boost.*
- Eases anxiety. It contains the amino acid tryptophan, which helps the brain produce serotonin.
- Helps relieve pain via promoting the production of endorphins.
Before you raid the candy store, a word of caution. . . .
If Chocolate Is So Healthy, Why Isn’t It a Supplement Yet?
Too good to be true? Hold on. The caveats for chocolate consumption are not all that bad.
- *It does contain stimulants, such as caffeine, which can be a problem for some with certain medical conditions and for children (but this can be a boost for others).
- If you suffer from chronic headaches, chocolate happens to be a popular headache trigger.
- Processed chocolate tends to have additives — fat, sugar, excessive calories, preservatives, and things we can’t even pronounce — that undermine many of cocoa’s natural health benefits. And often the process of making powdered chocolate and chocolate syrup strips the cocoa of its healthy flavanols.
Luckily, there’s a way around the last one. Make your own organic chocolate! It happens to be quite easy.
Organic, Homemade Dark Chocolate Bar Recipe
This is an amazing chocolate candy recipe by butterbeliever.com (ironically butter-free) that has the health benefits listed above without all of those processed ingredients you find in store-bought chocolate.
- 3/4 cup organic cocoa powder
- 3/4 cup organic coconut oil
- 3/4 cup organic honey, molasses, or maple syrup
- 1 tsp real vanilla extract
- pinch of salt
First melt coconut oil in small pan. Add remaining ingredients. Whisk well. Line baking dish with parchment paper and pour whisked chocolate. Refrigerate briefly until hardened. Cut into bars or break into chocolate chunks, and there you go! Easy, yummy, guilt-free in the tummy! Be sure to store in fridge, or it will melt after a while.
These organic chocolate bars should be fun to make with the kids. Enjoy in moderation, so they don’t go bouncing off the walls, and hide some for yourself to enjoy later (you know what I’m talking about).
“All you need is love. But a little chocolate now and then doesn’t hurt.” ~Charles M. Schulz (No it doesn’t, Charlie. No it does not.)