Chocolate has become ubiquitous with Valentine’s Day, but its origins weren’t so sweet.
A bit of history
Originally called Xocolati, or “bitter water”, it was a Mesoamerican drink made from ground cacao beans, chilies and spices. It wasn’t until explorers brought this drink back to Europe, where sugar and eventually milk was added, that chocolate evolved into how we know it now.
There have been hundreds of studies on cocoa and chocolate and cardiovascular health. These suggest that the flavanols in cocoa called cocoa polyphenols have a cardio protective effect. Chocolate also contains magnesium, a mineral many of us are deficient in. It can also improve blood flow to your brain, act as a prebiotic, and may even reduce inflammation.
There is a dark side to chocolate, however. In the US, dozens of chocolate products sold there were found to contain cadmium and lead. These are heavy metals that can cause a variety of health problems. Also, due to the manufacturing and storing process, it’s not uncommon for chocolate to contain mold which poses many health risks. Not all chocolate is created equal – the lower the percentage of chocolate, the higher the percentage of sugar so you need to consider it as part of your daily sugar intake.
Buy the best quality chocolate you can afford and look for chocolate that is at least 72% dark. 85% dark is even better and chocolate with 0% sugar is your best choice. Another option for getting your ‘chocolate fix’ is to use organic cocoa powder which allows you to get all of the health benefits and taste of chocolate, but allows you to manage the sugar content.
Check out my “Chocolate Avocado Pudding” recipe on the “Share the Love” section of my website!
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