If you're going to consume a bit of chocolate in the coming weeks, make sure it's the right kind.
Is chocolate healthy? That's an eternal debate.
Chocolate is the processed form of cacao beans. Raw cacao has a host of health benefits, some of which can be found in chocolate. However, there are healthy sources of chocolate, such as dark chocolate and cacao nibs.
Dark chocolate is probably the healthiest source of chocolate. That's because it contains higher amounts of cacao compared to other forms of chocolate, and contains small amounts of sugar. In contrast, milk chocolate has high amounts of sugar and milk and little cacao.
However, to leverage the health benefits of dark chocolate, go for dark chocolate bars with at least 60% cacao. That ensures you get more of the minerals and antioxidants of cacao and fewer additives.
The health benefits of dark chocolate include:
- Anti-inflammatory properties
- Reduced risk of heart disease
- Reduced insulin resistance
- Improved brain function
Cacao nibs are broken and roasted cacao beans. You can take cacao nibs in their raw form. Alternatively, you can use them in place of chocolate in pastries.
Cacao nibs are an even healthier choice compared to dark chocolate. That's because it contains more unadulterated cacao.
Cocoa powder shake
Cocoa is a powder made by grinding roasted cacao seeds. Cocoa powder is what you use to make hot chocolate and other drinks. However, the heat process involved in the processing of cocoa powder compromises some of the nutrients in cacao seeds. Still, it contains a high percentage of cacao and is a healthy source of chocolate, mainly when the processing does not involve additives.
You can make a chocolate shake by mixing cocoa powder with water. The result is a protein-rich shake without sugary additives.
Do you eat oatmeal for breakfast? You can make oatmeal more chocolatey by adding cocoa powder, preferably without adding sugar. If you must sweeten, use honey. Cocoa powder adds the health benefits of cacao to the many health benefits of oatmeal.
Not to be confused with milk chocolate, chocolate milk is a mixture of milk and cocoa powder. According to research, chocolate milk is the best post-workout recovery beverage.
The ratio of milk to chocolate is a bone of contention. However, according to studies, the carb to protein ratio of 4:1 is ideal for replenishing fatigued muscles. Of course, it is healthier to use low-fat milk.
Do you want to reduce the unhealthy side of chocolate? How about dressing your favorite fruits in chocolate? You can dip healthy fruits such as strawberries and bananas in chocolate. That way, you are enjoying the sweetness of chocolate and gaining the additional nutrients of fruits. For a cold treat on a hot day, freeze the chocolate-dipped fruits.
Home-made chocolate spread
You can make a healthy chocolate spread at home, with a foundation of dates and avocados. All you need are six dates, a piece of avocado, and four tablespoons of premium cocoa powder. Put the ingredients in a blender. If the mixture is not blending, add one or two teaspoons of water.