There have been books and movies written about it, its abundance rivals coffee… and it seems every second week there is a study released about the benefits of chocolate. 

There are a number of reasons why chocolate can be beneficial for your health, however not all chocolate is created equal. The darker the chocolate the more health benefits it contains.

Dark chocolate contains naturally occurring antioxidants called flavanols and epicatechins (two types of flavonoids.) These antioxidants have been shown in some studies to decrease your risk of heart attacks and strokes.

Chocolate is also a good source of tryptophan an amino acid that supports the production of serotonin. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that stimulates the secretion of endorphins, and can produce feelings of elation. I’m sure many people would agree with experiencing an improved mood after eating chocolate.

CHOOSE GOOD QUALITY CHOCOLATE

The more chocolate is processed, the less likely it is to contain any of its health-improving qualities, and the more refined sugar and poor quality fat it’s likely to contain, which can take away from your health.

Recipes that use the raw ingredients of chocolate: such as cacao butter and cacao powder are a fantastic option to experiment with. Making your own chocolate is faster than driving to the shop to buy them! Plus you create a chocolate snack that is packed full of nourishment, no fillers, milk or poor quality fats and refined sugar – just pure chocolatey goodness!

CHOCOLATE ISN’T EVERYONE’S FRIEND

The cacao bean, hence chocolate, contains substances that can adversely affect some people. Dogs can’t tolerate chocolate at all as one of the substances in it, theobromine, is toxic to dogs at certain doses.

Theobromine and caffeine are two of the compounds that can also play havoc with the human nervous system. They can contribute to hypertension, insomnia and/or anxiety. If you have trouble sleeping and you have chocolate close to bedtime, omitting chocolate could be a great place to start. The same applies to children, as chocolate can be quite stimulating for some children.

There are many health benefits associated with regularly consuming small amounts of dark chocolate and it’s a wonderfully delicious addition to your diet – however, it doesn’t suit everyone and I would encourage you to explore whether or not chocolate loves you back!

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