Chocolate is a great treat that has been around for centuries and is now being celebrated as a healthy antioxidant. However, there are some facets of chocolate you should know when making decisions for your health. Also, find my favorite delectable dessert recipes below!
CHOCOLATE ON THE BRAIN & BODY
But isn’t cacao a superfood? Many research studies linking health benefits to chocolate have been emphasized in recent years; however, as the American Cancer Society reports, the research is actually mixed and much is unknown. The benefits that research studies cite can be loosely correlated or from extremely high amounts of flavanols, higher than what one would typically eat in a serving of chocolate.
Although cacao chocolate does have some nutrients and health benefits, it contains an alkaloid called theobromine. Theobromine can cause oily skin or outbreaks, digestion discomfort, exhaust the adrenals, decrease immune system responses, impair liver function, or trigger anxiety. When someone is dealing with chronic fatigue, pain, headaches, migraines, irregular heartbeat, and/or nerve discomforts, I typically recommend avoiding it.
I often recommend to clients who are pregnant to avoid chocolate. When growing a beautiful new life in one’s body, what one consumes affects the child’s development – and our goal is to create a healthy, nourishing environment for the baby to grow. To see more recommendations for pregnant mamas, see my Ultimate Guide For Expecting Mothers.
If you are looking for mouth-watering treats to share that will also nourish the brain and body, keep reading!
CHOCOLATE ON OUR ENERGY LEVEL
Long day at work? Need a pick-me-up? Many reach for stimulants such as coffee and chocolate for an energy boost, but after the buzz they crash our energy hard. What causes this? The theobromine alkaloid in cacao acts as a stimulant similar to caffeine. It is a vasodilator, accelerating the heartbeat – causing the body to think it is in “fight or flight” mode. The body begins to secrete stress hormones, activates the adrenals into overtime, and works hard to rid itself of the stimulant, eventually causing an energy crash.
If you are in need of an energy boost, reach for fruit – our bodies need that bioavailable glycogen as fuel. Bananas are a great portable snack perfect for busy people on the go due to their high water/nutrient ratio. If you’re looking for a rich source of antioxidants, look no further than fruit! Berries (particularly wild blueberries) are extremely high in antioxidants without the other effects of cacao.
Worried about the sugar? Here’s why natural fruit sugar is vital to your body’s functioning.
Another way to increase and maintain our energy is to get enough hydrating fluids throughout the day – drink more than you think! Here’s how hydration can up your energy – and lower your stress levels.
CHOOSE YOUR CHOCOLATE WISELY
As with any product we can buy, I encourage you to be a conscious consumer. Many chocolate brands or sweet treats with chocolate contain dairy, eggs, soy, corn syrup, and preservatives. If you do partake in a chocolatey treat, look at the label to see if the ingredients are clean and high-quality (see an example below). If it is available, choose carob chocolate; carob is less taxing on the body.
SO, WHAT ARE MY OPTIONS?!
What does this mean for you and your dessert scene? High-quality chocolate can make a decadent occasional treat. Here are some brands that have simple ingredients without any artificial fillers or dairy, egg, or wheat/gluten, and as an added plus many of their ingredients are from sustainable and ethically responsible sources:
- Alter Eco
- Whole Foods 365 Organic Dark Chocolate
- Enjoy Life
Remember: good, better, best. We can always make a choice that is a little better than last time, or if “best” is out of reach, go for “good” or “better”. We can still enjoy ourselves without sacrificing our health!
Let’s compare the ingredient labels of the Theo brand to a Hershey’s chocolate bar.
Hershey’s Chocolate Bar:
Ingredients: Milk chocolate (sugar; milk, chocolate; cocoa butter; lactose; milk fat; soy lecithin; PGPR, emulsifier; vanillin, artificial flavor).
Ingredients: Organic cocoa beans, organic cane sugar, organic cocoa butter, organic ground vanilla bean.
I like the Theo brand because the ingredients are simple, clean, quality, organic, and fair trade.
If you are looking for a variety of yummy desserts (including a chocolate cake recipe!), here’s How To Sneak High Nutrient Foods Into Your Kids’ Desserts.
We can work in tandem with our bodies to keep ourselves thriving and healthy. Pay attention to how your body feels after consuming chocolate and adjust your consumption accordingly. The human body is wondrous and can heal given what it needs!
P.S. If you want to learn more about the power of food in your health (plus so much more), check out my online course Radical Healing: The Step-By-Step Guide To Reclaiming Your Vibrance.