Pure cocoa powder is full of iron and boasts a high magnesium content which is beneficial for the heart, energy levels and nerve and muscle relaxation. It is a great source of antioxidants (gram for gram higher than blueberries) and brain boosting flavonoids. Diets high in antioxidants have been associated with a reduced risk for high blood pressure, cholesterol problems, stroke, cardiovascular disease, cancer, arthritis, asthma and Alzheimer’s.
It contains Theobromine which has been scientifically shown to have the ‘feel good factor’ as it’s an efficient mood elevator, encouraging the release of calming endorphins and reducing anxiety. The theobromine content may even reduce the risk of pre-eclampsia in pregnancy.
Most studies into the positive effects use dark chocolate which has a higher cocoa content and less sugar and fat. To enjoy the benefits yourself select dark over milk and avoid the white version. Include a few squares of the 70% variety, use cocoa powder in baking or a milky drink or dip strawberries, mango or banana in melted dark chocolate. Fruit kebabs with a chocolate dip are great way to provide children with the benefits of both fruit and cocoa and fun for them to make too!
To help counteract the blood sugar fluctuations which can be caused by the caffeine and the sugar in chocolate enjoy your treat at the end of a meal or with a handful of nuts (or have nutty chocolate!). The protein in these will slow down the sugar rush from the chocolate, giving you greater control over your energy levels.
So next time you fancy a sweet indulgence reach for the good quality stuff.
Jayne Russell has over twenty years of experience as a pre’ and postnatal massage and nutritional therapist and is the founder of Nom Nom – award winning, certified organic pregnancy and baby skincare. Sign up for your free skincare guide “10 Steps to Super Healthy Baby Skin” at nomnomskincare.com