Diamonds are not a girl's best friend. Chocolate is. In fact, chocolate is everybody's best friend. We all adore it, yet feel terribly guilty when indulging. But we have great news: chocolate is not all that bad!
Despite its bad reputation for causing weight gain, diabetes, acne and many more, there are a number of powerful health and wellness benefits associated with this delicious treat. Don't get too excited, though, cause we are not talking about all kinds of chocolate, but about natural, dark chocolate and nibs. Just like carbs, fats and sugars, not all chocolate is created equal. The potential health benefits of processed, highly sweetened milk or white chocolate are slim to none, but the health benefits of natural, dark chocolate are numerous and in fact quite impressive. Here are a few of them in brief:
Dark chocolate's antioxidant capacity is on par or even greater than many superfoods.
Protection from Disease-Causing Free Radicals
One of dark chocolate's most extraordinary benefits is its free radical fighting ability due to its potent antioxidant content.
Blood Pressure and Blood Sugar Aid
Moderate dark chocolate consumption has been shown to lower blood pressure of the hypertensive diabetics and decrease fasting blood sugar.
Good for The Overall Cholesterol Profile
It is true that the palmitic acid in dark chocolate can increase cholesterol levels, but thankfully it only makes up about a small portion of the fat in dark chocolate. Plus dark chocolate has a lot of great plant nutrients that make up for the palmitic acid. That is for instance dark chocolate's cocoa polyphenols that may be involved in cholesterol control.
Potential Cancer Prevention
The flavonoids (plant pigments that have antioxidant abilities) in chocolate may help prevent cancer.
Lowers The Risk Of Developing Heart Disease
Flavanols (the main type of flavonoid found in dark chocolate) have a very positive effect on the heart health by helping lower blood pressure and improving blood flow to the heart as well as the brain.
Prevents Memory Decline and Streamlines Cognitive Function
Again due to its flavonoids content the consumption of dark chocolate is associated with better performance across several cognitive abilities. It also helps keep the brain healthy and reduce memory decline.
How to choose the good chocolate?
A label that reads "dark chocolate” doesn’t automatically make it a healthy choice. It is important to learn how to be able to choose good, high quality chocolate over bad, processed 'chocolate'.
The general consensus is that dark chocolate typically contains between 70 percent to 99 percent pure cacoa or cocoa solids. The rule that we recommend you to follow is to eat small amounts (up to 200 gr. per week) of minimally processed dark chocolate with at least a 70 percent cocoa content. In fact, the higher the percentage, the most powerful antioxidants and the least amount of sugar the chocolate would contain; hence the greater the potential health benefits and nutritious properties of the product would be. It may come as a surprise to you, but dark chocolate is in fact nutritious, especially when it comes to fiber, iron, magnesium, manganese and copper.
You can indulge into some dark chocolate with raw almonds or other nuts, but try to avoid unhealthy additions like marshmallows, caramel and fruit that can mitigate the benefits of dark chocolate.You should also look for dark chocolate that is made from fairly traded or organic cocoa/cacao beans and pure cocoa butter, and that does not contain palm or other hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils.
To celebrate our love for chocolate we are sharing the recipe for our amazing gluten-free Healthier Fudgy Brownie with lots of intense dark chocolate! Enjoy!
The Healthier Fudgy Brownie
Total time: 50
Prep time: 10
240 gr good-quality dark chocolate
¾ cup coconut oil melted
1¼ cups coconut sugar
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1 tsp. pure rum extract
¾ cup gluten-free flour blend for baking
¼ cup pure raw cocoa powder
1 tsp. Himalayan salt
Preheat the oven to 350°F/180°C.
Chop the chocolate into chunks. Melt half and save the other half for later.
Mix the coconut oil, coconut sugar, eggs, vanilla and rum extract. Beat for 1-2 minutes until the mixture has become fluffy.
Whisk in the reserved melted chocolate. Make sure the chocolate is not too hot or else the eggs will cook). Lastly sift in the flour, cocoa powder, and salt. Mix it all but be careful not to overmix as this will cause the texture of the brownies to be more dry and cake-like.
Fold in the chocolate chunks, then transfer the batter into a parchment paper-lined baking dish.
Bake for 30-35 minutes, depending on how fudgy you like your brownies. Cool completely.
Serve with your favourite ice cream on the side.
If you have liked this recipe you should also try our 3 NON-GUILTY PLEASURES THAT YOU CAN ENJOY WITHOUT A SECOND THOUGHT!
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