Chocolate: considered a delicacy for thousands of years, it’s indulgent, sophisticated, delicious... but is it really good for you?
Chocolate is made from cocoa beans, the seeds from the cacao tree - an evergreen tree native to the tropical area of South America. After harvesting, the beans are fermented, dried, roasted and crushed, resulting in cacao nibs. These nibs are then ground into non-alcoholic liquor ready to be made into chocolate.
Not all chocolate is created equal; to reap the bene ts you need to choose the highest quality dark chocolate, raw cacao powder, or cacao nibs, as these products usually have less added sugar and are higher in nutrients.
Generally, the darker the chocolate the higher the cacao (cocoa) content, so choose your chocolate carefully and enjoy:
• Antioxidants: those chemical compounds that neutralise harmful free radicals – chemicals that cause damage in the body.
Vitamins and minerals: dark chocolate is rich in iron, selenium, zinc, magnesium, vitamins A, D, E, and a range of the B vitamins. Great for energy and all-round health.
Flavonoids: good for heart and cardiovascular system health, these chemicals help to regulate blood clotting and even lower blood pressure.
Good mood chemicals: chocolate contains tryptophan, phenyl ethylamine and other chemicals which give you that feel-good factor, and even a mild caffeine buzz.
Lower cholesterol: dark chocolate can increase the amount of HDL cholesterol: the good, protective kind, in the blood, which in turn decreases the amount of LDL cholesterol, the kind that causes vessel disease.
Be careful how much you have though, chocolate contains high levels of fats, and usually has added sugar, which makes it high in calories.
If you’re looking for a sweet snack, a square or two of carefully chosen quality dark chocolate is a great choice.