If there aren’t already a million reasons why we love chocolate, recent news has given us one more, proving claims that dark chocolate is healthy. We all know that dark chocolate contains antioxidants, which promote a healthy immune system, warding off cancer. However, researchers from Louisiana State University found that bacteria in our belly feed on the cocoa powder and turn it into anti-inflammatory compounds that are good for the heart.
This health finding is specifically related to cocoa powder—not the sugary, creamy milk, mouth-watering treats—meaning the results do not translate to your favorite milk chocolate bar. But you could add a dash of cocoa powder in your oatmeal for breakfast to reap the benefits.
There is also long-standing belief that dark chocolate lowers blood pressure and improves cholesterol levels. In another chocolate study sponsored by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute and Mars Inc., maker of M&M’s and Snickers bars, 18,000 adults from Boston and Seattle will be given chocolate pills every day for four years in attempt to prove its relationship with low blood pressure. Cocoa triggers relaxation within blood vessels, which make then naturally widening to increase blood flow and decrease blood pressure.
The capsules given contain cocoa flavanols, the bio-active chemicals from cocoa beans, which will provide the participants with all the good stuff chocolate has to offer, without the added fat and sugar of a chocolate bar (the amount given in pill form = 5 chocolate bars per day). Researchers will study their heart health and results are expected in three years.
Now that I have an excuse to indulge, I needed to satisfy my chocolate craving. I am trying to eat healthy and control, or at least tame my cravings, but the constant news has chocolate on my brain, sending urgent messages to my stomach.
To satisfy my chocolate craving the healthy way, this morning I made a breakfast shake that was packed in protein to keep me full until lunch. I used Carantion Breakfast Essentials (I normally would use chocolate whey, but ran out!), which is high in sugars (12g), but contains high amounts of vitamins A, B6, B12, C and E, and is high in calcium, magnesium, riboflavin and iron. I blended together the chocolate breakfast powder with a small amount of almond milk, water, 1 banana, and 1 teaspoon of organic peanut butter. It tastes divine and I feel less guilty about my chocolate breakfast shake than I would from baking and eating the box of gluten-free brownie mix I have waiting for me at home.