Happy, Healthy Easter
Easter is a festival celebrating new life, new beginnings and potential for growth. Eggs act as a symbol of new life. The trouble is, the only growth that the average chocolate Easter Egg will promote is around the girth of the eater. However, chocolate itself is not the culprit. The cacao bean from which chocolate is made has many health benefits including:
Antioxidants – The antioxidants in cacao have been found to exhibit anti-cancer, cardio-protective, antimicrobial, anti-viral, and neuro-protective effects (1,2).
Improved Digestive Health – cacao has a prebiotic effect meaning it may encourage the growth of beneficial bacteria in the large intestine. These beneficial bacteria play a vital role in digestion, immunity and overall health (3).
Better Blood Sugar Control – the antioxidants in cacao may improve hyperglycaemia (high blood sugar) and insulin resistance and, in turn, reduce the risk of diabetes and obesity (4,5).
Alertness and Mood – chocolate contains caffeine and theobromine which together may lead to greater alertness, concentration and improved mood, all without the serious side effects of hard drugs (6,7).
More Joy! – research confirms what many people already know – that eating chocolate elevates mood, increases activity and stimulates feelings of joy (8).
So here is a recipe for an energy and joy boosting chocolate treat:
Chocolate Easter Bites
1/2 cup of medjool dates, pitted
1 cup of unsulphured apricots
1 cup of almonds, lightly toasted
2 tbsp coconut butter, slightly softened
3 tbsp of cacao powder
- Put the dates, apricots, almonds, coconut butter and 2 tbsp of cacao powder into a food processor and blend until the mixture holds together in a thick paste.
- Shape the mixture into small egg shapes and roll in the rest of the cacao powder.
- Place the eggs in small petit-four cases and refrigerate until needed. These will last a few days if kept in an airtight container in the fridge.
- 1. Lo Coco F, Lanuzza F, Micali G, Cappellano G. Determination of theobromine, theophylline, and caffeine in by-products of cupuacu and cacao seeds by high-performance liquid chromatography. J Chromatography Sci. 2007 May-June;45(5):273-5
- 2. Nabavi SF, Sureda A, Daglia M et al. Anti-Oxidative Polyphenolic Compounds of Cocoa. Curr Pharm Biotechnol. 2015;16(10):891-901.
- 3. Tzounis X, Rodriguez-Mateos A, Vulevic J, Gibson GR, Kwik-Uribe C, Spencer Prebiotic evaluation of cocoa-derived flavanols in healthy humans by using a randomized, controlled, double-blind, crossover intervention study. Am J Clin Nutr. 2011 Jan;93(1):62-72
- 4. Katz DL, Doughty K, Ali A, Cocoa and chocolate in human health and Antioxid Redox Signal. 2011 Nov 15;15(10):2779-811
- 5. Yamashita Y, Okabe M, Natsume M, Ashida Prevention mechanisms of glucose intolerance and obesity by cacao liquor procyanidin extract in high fat diet fed C57BL/6miceArch Biochem Biophys. 2012 Mar 23. [Epub ahead of print]
- 6. Martinez-Pinella E, Onatibia-Astibia A, Franco R. The relevance of theobromine for the beneficial effects of cocoa consumption. Front Pharmacol. 2015 Feb 20;6:30
- 7. Franco R, Onatibia-Astibia A, Martinez-Pinella E. Health Benefits of Methylxanthines in Cacao and Chocolate. Nutrients. 2013 Oct; 5(10): 4159–4173
- 8. Macht M, Dettmer D. Everyday mood and emotions after eating a chocolate bar or an apple. Appetite. 2006 May;46(3):332-6