In celebration of Valentine’s Day, it seemed appropriate to talk about a delicious superfood- chocolate! During my healing process I made sure to reward myself for all my hard work, and turns out, I did my body good!
Chocolate has many benefits since it contains phytonutrients called flavanols. Benefits range from reducing inflammation, prevention of blood clots since it improves vessel dilation, protects the nerve cells, reduces insulin resistance, inhibits cancer growth, and best of all- increases blood flow to the brain! These benefits are based on 1 oz. a day since consuming in excess could lead to excess calories and saturated fat intake- so keep that in mind.
It has been shown that it stimulates neural activity in areas of the brain associated with pleasure and reward, which in turn decreases stress and improves your mood. In fact, eating 48 grams of organic dark chocolate with 70% cacao increased neuroplasticity in the brain, which could have positive effects on memory, cognition, and mood.
According to University Health News, chocolate has been shown to improve depression and anxiety symptoms and to help enhance feelings of calmness and contentedness.
Scientific studies have proven that dark chocolate (cacao) is rich in antioxidants and packed with nutrients. Cacao actually has more antioxidants than green tea or red wine according to Toby Amidor, RD, a nutrition expert for the Food Network. The darker you go, the more antioxidants you’ll get.
Chocolate is made from the fermented, roasted, and finely ground seeds of the Theobroma cocoa tree. The cocoa tree is about 30 feet tall bearing white flowers and colorful fruits and is native to Central and South America. It takes about 5 years for the tree to produce its first fruit, otherwise known as a cocoa pod. Learn more at www.chocolate.org
With so many options on the market, which brands are more likely to have these amazing benefits?
Endangered Species chocolate with 70%, 72% and 88% are ethically traded and focus on endangered species.
Green & Blacks 70% and 85%. Organic and no GMO ingredients.
Theo chocolate 85%. This company was the first US chocolate maker to be fair trade and organic.
Hu Kitchen 70% or higher. Organic, non-GMO.www.hukitchen.com