Last week saw the celebration of National Chocolate Week – a time where it’s okay to indulge, it’s okay to swap constantly between bars and buttons and it’s okay to eat chocolate for breakfast. (!)
Okay I may just be getting a little bit ahead of myself there, and exaggerating just a little bit, but one thing I do know is, that there is always going to be speculation around the subject. One day it’s good for us. The next its the devil. But it doesn’t need to be so complicated, it’s just all about finding a balance and enjoying a decent good quality dark bar in moderation and as long as as we do that, there is no reason why we can’t all enjoy a little bit of chocolate time every now and again.
I’m sure you don’t need it, but if you do – here’s 5 reasons why we should all be including Dark Chocolate in our diets.
It Makes Us Happy.
Eating dark chocolate can help boost the production of those happy ‘feel-good’ chemicals in the brain we all know as endorphins, which can help not only make us feel happier, but can also help to reduce pain and minimise the effects of stress. If this wasn’t enough to make you pick up a bar and nibble, it also contains a small amount of the chemical called phenylethylamine which has been dubbed the sassy sounding ‘love-drug’ for its similar reaction on our brains as the one we get when we are in love.
(Which FYI also puts us in the mood to get down and jiggy – you naughty little choccie!)
It Can Help To Protect Us.
Did you know that chocolate can help to lower our blood pressure, protect and maintain a healthy cardiovascular system and protect our skin against sun-damage? The polyphenols found within cacao lead to more of the ‘good kind’s’ of cholesterol inside our bodies which can help to decrease and reduce the levels of it’s ‘bad’ version. But it’s not only the polyphenols that are protecting our bodies – flavanol’s contain anti-inflammatory qualities that can help to maintain and regulate a healthy blood flow protecting our bodies against harmful UV rays and keep our minds in tip-top shape.
(Although of-course I would still recommend applying sun-cream. Chocolate can help, but it isn’t a miracle protector.)
It Can Help Give Us Energy.
Need a little bit of a pick-me-up? Then reaching for that chocolate bar may actually be doing our body more good than you think. Chocolate contains both caffeine and the theo twins- theobromine and theophylline which have a stimulating affect on both our bodies and mind. Dark chocolate is a natural energy booster that when eaten in moderation can have beneficial energising and boosting powers.
It’s Good for Those Pesky Period Cramps.
Chocolate can help elevate that time of the month by alleviating the symptoms – or at least just a little bit. The magnesium found inside chocolate can help curb those cramps by putting a temporary block through it’s mild stimulant effect on our nervous systems as well as by increasing the levels of calcium inside our body which can also help to decrease the severity of cramps.
(On top of its cramping benefits it can also help improve our energy and boost our mood as we have just seen above.)
It Contains Beneficial Nutrients and Antioxidants.
Dark Chocolate is rich in antioxidants as well as containing beneficial minerals and nutrients such as: potassium, zinc, copper, magnesium and selenium. Medical evidence has shown that both the potassium and copper found within dark chocolate can be linked to preventing strokes and cardiovascular diseases and the magnesium can help to prevent high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes and other heart problems.
A 100g bar of dark chocolate – 0ver 70% can also provide at least 67% of our recommended daily allowance of Iron which can help protect against fatigue created by anemia. So the phrase, a chocolate a day, keeps the doctor away can apply here right?!
My Top 5 Dark Chocolates to get your teeth stuck into:
OMBAR Raspberry and Coconut
This raw zingy creation hits the spot in all the right places. The raspberry and coconut combo just pair perfectly together to create one creamy indulgent bar of goodness.
Green and Blacks Dark Chocolate and Ginger
This spicy little number by Green and Blacks is my go-to for something with a little bit of a kick. Crystallised ginger pieces are lovingly tucked inside 60% dark chocolate that melts on the tongue and slowly warms you up from the inside out.
Raw Halo Dark + Lemon and Pink Himalayan Salt
This bar must be one of my all time favourites due to its ultimate heavenly taste. It combines the sweet and citrus tang of lemon with the salty aftertaste of pink Himalayan salt all within an organic, refined sugar free dark raw chocolatey casing.
Gemini’s Chocolate Peanut Bar
This is the healthy raw and natural version of a snickers bar. A classic pairing of peanut and chocolate come together in a completely organic and bittersweet combination that is the perfect example of a sophisticated bar.
Chocolate and Love Rich Dark 71%
The packaging one this one is just as beautiful as the taste – which starts with bitter red berries followed by a smooth and slightly acidic finish. The perfect bar for those who adore dark chocolate.
What’s your favourite Dark Chocolate?!