Chocolate for All
So, even if you haven’t got a romantic lover to shower with Valentine’s chocolates, you almost certainly have people in your life who could benefit. Whether you are buying chocolate as a gift or as a treat to yourself you may be doing more good than you think. There is increasing evidence that chocolate deserves its place in health food shops. Here is a quick look at some recent research into why you might want to eat chocolate way beyond Valentine’s day:
Chocolate for metabolic health – Research suggests that the polyphenols in chocolate positively affect the mechanisms involved in insulin resistance and endothelial dysfunction, which may help prevent type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome (1). Indeed chocolate consumption has been found to be inversely correlated with the development of type 2 diabetes in younger and normal-body weight men, after controlling for life style factors, including total energy consumption (2).
Chocolate for heart health – the consumption of dark chocolate is associated with a lower risk of cardiovascular disease and a reduced risk of future cardiovascular events (3). Daily chocolate consumption has been found to enhance vasodilation and to reduce arterial stiffness, particularly in women (4).
Chocolate for stress reduction – stress is associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes and some cancers (5). Research on medical students found that daily consumption of 40g of chocolate for 2 weeks reduced perceived stress, particularly in women (5). This was not due to the sweet nature of the chocolate as white chocolate did not have the same effect. It is thought to be the flavanols in the cocoa solids that reduce oxidative stress within the body. Other research found that eating 40g of dark chocolate a day for 2 weeks reduced the urinary excretion of the stress hormone cortisol (6).
Chocolate for exercise recovery – drinking chocolate milk after short term intensive exercise has been shown to enhance recovery compared to drinking water, without affecting weight loss (7). Other benefits include improved performance, reduced levels of the stress hormone cortisol and raised testosterone relative to cortisol in men (7).
In other words chocolate is good for your heart, your hormones and your emotional health! Here’s a recipe for a healthy treat.
Chocolate Berry Bites
1 cup of almonds, lightly toasted
½ cup of hazelnuts, lightly toasted
1 cup of dried mulberries, soaked for a couple of hours eg: mulberries, Inca berries, goji berries, blueberries, soaked for a couple of hours
½ tsp almond essence
3 tbsp cacao powder
1 tbsp honey (optional)
2 tbsp of shredded coconut
- Put the almonds and hazelnuts into a food processor with the S blade and process until they are finely chopped.
- Drain the water from the berries but do not discard it.
- Add the berries to the food processor along with the almond essence, cacao powder and honey if using. Process until you have a thick paste. Add a bit of the berry soak water if necessary.
- Sprinkle the shredded coconut onto a plate. Roll pieces of the mixture into walnut sized balls and roll these in the coconut.
These will store in an air tight container in the fridge for a week.
- 1. J Agric Food Chem. 2015 Nov 18;63(45):9919-26. Cocoa, glucose tolerance, and insulin signaling: cardiometabolic protection. Grassi D, Desideri G, Mai F, Martella L et al.
- 2. Am J Clin Nutr. 2015 Feb;101(2):362-7. Chocolate consumption and risk of diabetes mellitus in the Physicians’ Health Study. Matsumoto C, Petrone AB, Sesso HD et al.
- 3. Heart. 2015 Aug;101(16):1279-87. Habitual chocolate consumption and risk of cardiovascular disease among healthy men and women. Kwok CS, Boekholdt SM, Lengjes MA et al.
- 4. Br J Nutr. 2014 Feb;111(4):653-61. Effects of dark chocolate and cocoa consumption on endothelial function and arterial stiffness in overweight adults West SG, McIntyre MD, Piotrowski Mj et al.
- 5. Int J Health Sci (Qassim). 2014 Oct; 8(4): 393–401. Effects of chocolate intake on Perceived Stress; a Controlled Clinical Study. Sunni AA, Latif R.
- 6. J Proteome Res. 2009 Dec;8(12):5568-79. Metabolic effects of dark chocolate consumption on energy, gut microbiota, and stress-related metabolism in free-living subjects. Martin FP, Rezzi S, Pere-Trepat E et al.
- 7. Appl Physiol Nutr Metab. 2015 Nov;40(11):1116-22. Effects of acute postexercise chocolate milk consumption during intensive judo training on the recovery of salivary hormones, salivary SIgA, mood state, muscle soreness, and judo-related performance. Papacosta E, Nassis GP, Gleeson M.