When I shared with my 7 year old daughter that cocoa actually has things in it that are good for your health, her eyes sparkled widely. Chocolate is her favorite food group, and thankfully she enjoys dark chocolate, so I can feel a little less guilty about giving in to her dessert cravings.
So a few fun facts I found for all of my fellow chocolate fans. Cocoa as we probably all know comes from the beans of the cacao tree and originates from Central America. What you may not know is that this tree’s Latin name is Theobroma Cacao, which translates to “Food of the Gods”. No arguments here. Aztecs used the beans as currency and clearly knew the goodness of these little treasures.
So what has modern science taught us about the health benefits of cocoa?
- helps to maintain a healthy circulatory system
- improves the elasticity of blood vessels
- relief from bronchial asthma
- helps to maintain a healthy brain
- lowers LDL cholesterol and glucose levels
- improves insulin resistance and glucose metabolism
Cocoa is also rich in iron, magnesium, calcium, phosphorus, copper and manganese. It also contains selenium, potassium and zinc and is a source of both carbs and protein as well as fiber. Who knew that this delicious treat has so many amazing properties? So now my daughter tries to get extra chocolate for dessert, because, hey mom it’s healthy. Knowledge is power.
Of course choosing the right chocolate bar is key. The darker the better, and starting at a 70% is best. Milk chocolate has been processed and lots of additional ingredients added, so then you have to watch out for dairy and sugars. Also be on the watch for bars that are processed with alkali (which should be stated on the label). This processing, also known as “dutching”, reduces the chocolates flavanol content. The flavanol content is what gives the cocoa it’s antioxidant powers and helps with your blood vessels.
So all in all I will cave and say, yes darlings, cocoa is good for you. Of course my mom voice creeps in and also whispers, “in moderation like everything else.” But it is good to know that I can justify my chocolate cravings now. 😉