We’ve all read the headlines and watched the news segments about how chocolate may actually be good for us and that in it’s purest form, cocoa, is a superfood. Great news! Let’s skip kale for dinner and have a Hershey’s bar instead. If only it were that easy, or that simple. There is plenty of research that shows that cocoa can in fact provide several health benefits, but it’s how we consume the cocoa that makes a difference.
Here’s the good news: cocoa is loaded with powerful antioxidants and has been shown to lower the risk of cancer, stroke, heart disease and diabetes. An interesting study from Harvard found that the Kuna people of Panama have less than a 10% risk of any of these diseases and after studying their habits for 20yrs, they attribute the reduced risk to their cocoa consumption. The Kuna drink 5-6 cups of cocoa per day. Sounds simple right? We can do that! Well, here’s the bad news. The cocoa and chocolate we consume is filled with sugar and fat, practically negating the health benefits of the cocoa. The Kuna people make their cocoa from cocoa beans and sweeten it with banana, watch this short video to learn more.
Since we don’t have the time to ferment and cook our own cocoa beans, how can we enjoy cocoa and it’s benefits?
- Choose dark chocolate over milk chocolate
- Always look for “cocoa” or “cocoa butter” as one of the main ingredients
- Select chocolate that is at least 70% cocoa, these high quality chocolates are becoming more popular and can be found in most grocery stores. Anything less than that will not provide the health benefits.
- Replace your usual cocoa mix with raw cocoa powder, it’s much closer to cocoa’s natural form and can be used to make hot cocoa, as well as in baked goods or in smoothies
- Try snacking on raw cacao nibs, they are made from partially ground cacao beans, no sugar or fat so you can get all of the health benefits in a chocolately snack
As with anything, enjoy cocoa/chocolate in moderation and choose the healthier option in order to get all the health benefits. It doesn’t get much better than a enjoying something as delicious as chocolate and knowing that it’s actually good for you!