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THE HEALING POWER OF CHOCOLATE

  • By
  • Teresa Cutter

When I became a chef, most of my time was spent working in the pastry kitchen. We had an exclusive temperature controlled chocolate room with marble bench tops for tempering and chocolate making. I took pleasure in creating treats such as red velvet chocolate cake and decadent chocolate soufflé for the fine dining restaurant, and it would always wow anyone eating it.

My love affair with chocolate didn’t stop there. I love nothing more than indulging in a little chocolate therapy at home. I often enjoy a few pieces of good quality dark chocolate or sip on a mug of creamy homemade hot chocolate made from almond milk, cacao, cinnamon and a little vanilla. There’s just something so pleasurable in surrendering to this velvety indulgence.

There’s a good reason I’ve been cooking and baking with chocolate for most of my life… and it goes beyond its incredible flavour. Chocolate, is good for your health!

Cocoa, the main ingredient in chocolate, is one of the richest sources of antioxidants in the world. Rich in magnesium, iron, copper, manganese, riboflavin and essential micronutrients to support your health and wellbeing.

Studies show that the high flavonoid content of cocoa has been scientifically linked to a reduced risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke and diabetes. Cocoa contains theobromine that boosts endorphins and increases mental alertness.

 

This is exactly the reason why I designed my Naked Drinking Chocolate to be made from the highest grade of premium cocoa in the world. I wanted to create a purely decadent chocolate powder that was sugar-free, dairy-free and deliciously good for you.

The ingredients in Naked Chocolate are cacao, maca, lucuma, carob, cinnamon, vanilla bean with a pinch of French sea salt. They synergistically blend into a potion of superfood goodness that makes you feel warm and nourished from the inside out.

COCOA: FOOD OF THE GODS

Cocoa comes from the seeds of the cacao tree, whose Latin name is Theobroma cacao, which means “Food of the Gods”. It can be said that it is indeed a powerful and magical food that possesses amazing healing properties.

According to The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, the rich source of flavonoids found in cocoa has been linked to a reduced risk of cardiovascular diseases, such as heart disease and stroke.

This is because the cocoa flavanols are potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compounds that stimulate the production of nitric oxide, which help relax blood vessels and improve circulation.

A review article published in Stroke shows that cocoa flavonoids also helps control insulin resistance and reduces fasting insulin concentrations. This is great news for those with a sweet tooth but need to watch out for their sugar addiction… Choose high-quality dark chocolate for an indulgent treat, I prefer 80% cocoa or over, or make my delicious Naked Chocolat drink using homemade nut milk. It’s simply divine and won’t give you the usual sugar crash.

FEEL-GOOD AND FIGHT STRESS

There’s also a body of research showing how cocoa is can boost your mood and support brain health. For example, chocolate has even been referred to as the new anti-anxiety solution when a study in the Journal of Psychopharmacology revealed that those who were drinking an antioxidant-rich chocolate drink felt calmer than those who did not.

Studies from The International Journal of Health Sciences show that the consumption of chocolate daily during a period of 2 weeks appear to be an effective way to reduce perceived stress in females.

Personally, I’m a huge chocoholic, so to satisfy my cravings, I’m constantly creating guilt-free chocolate desserts and snacks with Naked Chocolat as part of my stress therapy…..it’s a great way to satisfy my chocolate cravings.

Cocoa is also rich in a compound called resveratrol, the same that’s found in red wine. Resveratrol helps to control inflammation and protects your brain as well as calm the nervous system.

HELPS TO BOOST MEMORY

Scientists at Harvard Medical School suggest that drinking two cups of hot chocolate a day could help keep the brain healthy and reduce memory decline in older people.

SPORTS PERFORMANCE + RECOVERY

Cocoa is rich in magnesium and antioxidants that assist with muscle repair and recovery. Cocoa is also high in nitrates that are converted to nitric oxide in the body, causing blood vessels to dilate and reducing oxygen consumption, helping athletes to maintain their pace for longer.

The Journal of Medicine and Sports Science says that consuming chocolate milk immediately after exercise and again at 2 hours post-exercise appears to be optimal for exercise recovery. Adding a serve of protein powder would also aid post exercise recovery.

MY FAVOURITE WAYS TO ENJOY CHOCOLATE

Some of my most requested recipes involve chocolate, and I can’t think of a better way to celebrate one of nature’s most delicious ingredients than a steaming mug of creamy homemade Healthy Hot Chocolate.

When I feel like a chocolate protein smoothie, I add a heaped tablespoon of Naked Chocolat into a blender with a frozen banana, ¼ avocado protein powder, dates, nut milk and ice. It’s the perfect workout drink.

As a dessert, there are so many recipes, but I often make my Healthy Chocolate Mousse and my Naked Chocolat that is scented with pure vanilla and a pinch of sea salt. This mousse is absolutely magical – the texture is heavenly and it takes only one minute to make.

When I feel like a chocolate protein smoothie, I add a heaped tablespoon of Naked Chocolat into a blender with a frozen banana, ¼ avocado, Healthy Chef protein powder, dates, nut milk and ice. It’s the perfect workout drink.

I have dedicated an entire chapter on chocolate in my new Healthy Baking cookbook. Some of these include my Chocolate Macadamia Brownies and Raw Chocolate Tahini, which I enjoy straight out of the jar! But it can also be used as a wonderful ganache or topping on your favourite chocolate cake!

 


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