Cocoa has an impressive array of health benefits, including lowering blood pressure, reducing unwanted blood clotting, improving your mood, brain function, alleviating asthma symptoms and more. But not all chocolate is created equal. Much of the chocolate on sale is high in sugar and fat with little nutritional value. So how do we choose the right chocolate?
Check labels for the following:
Cocoa content – Dark chocolate contains more antioxidants and less fat and sugar than milk chocolate, so you want to go for ideally 70% and more. You can’t eat more than a small square at a time – ideal portion control!
Raw is more – Cocoa polyphenols are delicate and heat-sensitive so can be destroyed in the chocolate-making process. Raw chocolate producers do not raise the temperature of their cocoa above 42ºC to retain as many nutrients as possible.
Select sugarless sweetness – Too much refined sugar is harmful, but health conscious chocolate producers have found ways to naturally sweeten their products using foods like agave syrup, coconut palm sugar, stevia, lacuma powder, dried fruit and carob.
Friendly fats – Look for chocolates made with the best kinds of fat. Cacao butter is a natural oil containing stearic acid (abundant in olive oil) and high levels of antioxidants.
Virgin Coconut Oil may also be used in some good quality chocolates bringing its health benefits to the bar.
Spiced Hot Chocolate Drink (serves 2)
This deliciously rich and warming hot chocolate is the autumn perfect treat. You can experiment with other spices too by adding chilli or ginger for that extra kick.
2 cups organic whole milk
2 sticks cinnamon
2-3 drops vanilla bean extract
Agave syrup to taste
Pinch grated nutmeg
4 tsp raw cacao powder
Warm the milk on a low heat with the cinnamon and vanilla bean extract allowing for the flavors to infuse.
When the milk is warm add the cacao powder and then sweeten gradually to taste.
Finally stir in the nutmeg and serve in a mug.