5 Healthy Ways To Enjoy Chocolate


Published: May 14, 2014

Healthy Eating

Chocolate has always been a treat. We enjoy it on special occasions. We rely on it for stress relief and consume it by the bucket during “that time of the month.” Despite its sweet novelties, did you know that cocoa, the substance from which chocolate is made has health professionals touting its wonderful benefits?

From heart health to blood pressure control, improved memory and prevention of insulin resistance, cocoa is an ingredient that may you may want to savour a little more. Before you go and buy all the chocolate you can find, there are some things you should know. Not all cocoa is created equal.

Cocoa is the by-product of roasting cacao beans. It is high in disease fighting compounds known as flavonoids which reduce inflammation, promote healthy arteries and prevent harmful molecules from damaging cells in the body.

By nature, cocoa is bitter, so to improve taste and palatability food companies add fat and sugar to create most of our favourite indulgencies. Unfortunately, the more added fat and sugar, the less potent the cocoa flavonoids.

To reap the full benefits of cocoa consider doing the following:

1. Read the label and pick products in which cocoa is listed as the first ingredient

2. Choose products which contain at least 70% cocoa

3. Pick dark chocolate over milk chocolate, the darker the chocolate, the more the cocoa and the greater the flavonoids.

4. Keep a jar of cocoa powder (without the added fat and sugar) and use it in place of commercial sugar added chocolate beverages. Simply add a teaspoon to some warmed reduced fat milk with a little bit of sweetener. Be careful how much sweetener you add, too much will decrease the overall availability of the flavonoids.

5. Add cocoa powder to your smoothies for a delicious twist in flavours. This works great with berry flavoured smoothies….yum.

Remember that although it has health benefits, commercial cocoa is also high in calories so use in moderation. Consume no more than 28g (1 ounce) of dark chocolate or cocoa products a day.

If you are not really a chocolate eater, there is really no need to begin eating it at this time. You can reap the same rewards from eating a diet that is high in healthy fruits and vegetables.

Here’s to your health!

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About Cordialis Msora-Kasago

Cordialis Msora-Kasago is a Registered Dietitian (R.D) and a pioneer in the discussion of modern day healthy lifestyles in Africa. She is the founder of The African Pot Nutrition - an organization that improves the health of African people through sustainable diet and lifestyle programs. Follow her on twitter @africadietitian.

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