Chocolate itself is derived from the seeds of a fleshy pod, which is the fruit of the Cacao tree. The tree’s botanical name is Theobroma cacao. Considering chocolate is made from the fruit of the cacao tree, you could argue that it is a fruit, however it is classified as a vegetable.
The health benefits associated with the cocoa bean are more than impressive. Benefits extend to your heart, blood vessels, brain and nervous system, there is improved insulin sensitivity, and even possibly slowing down the rate at which you age. Cacao’s benefits are related to compounds naturally occurring in the bean, including epicatechin, quercetin, theobromine and resveratrol. All powerful phyto chemicals in their own right. Epicatechin alone has been demonstrated to increase the production of new mitochondria in hearth and muscle tissue, and help shield your nerve cells from damage.
Resveratrol is a potent antioxidant found in red wine, known for its ability to cross your blood-brain barrier to help protect your nervous system. Chocolate is proving to be super healthy! This is exciting news.
A 2012 group study found that eating chocolate could slash your risk of cardiovascular disease by 37 percent and your stroke risk by 29 percent. Another 2012 meta-analysis (group study) this one in the UK, found that cocoa/chocolate lowered insulin resistance, reduced blood pressure, increased blood vessel elasticity, and slightly reduced LDL- a type of cholesterol. Chocolate does all this! Holy smokes- a diet without chocolate seems to be inhibiting optimal health! Ok, so that is just my hopeful- but seemingly accurate opinion! Go forth my friends and devour! Positive health benefits of the cacao bean:
Chocolate is full of Nutrients and health benefits
- Anti-diabetic and anti-obesity
- Slows progression of periodontitis
- Improves gastrointestinal flora
- Improves exercise endurance
- Cardio protective
- Reduces stress hormones
- May help extend lifespan
- Lowers Alzheimer’s risk
- Improved liver function
- Reduces symptoms of glaucoma and cataracts
- Protects against preeclampsia in pregnant women
Magnesium- Cacao is one of the best sources of magnesium, at 379mg per 100grams, only second behind nuts and seeds having 534mg per 100grams. If you are ever craving chocolate, this may be a good indication you are deficient in Magnesium.
Iron, Chromium, Manganese and Zinc, Copper and Vitamin C.
And it’s not just minerals. Cacao has feel good amino acids such as Tryptophan.
Tryptophan is a precursor to that mood enhancing amino acid called Serotonin. Serotonin makes us feel great!
Fibre- so much soluble fibre- the kind that helps to relieve constipation. And contrary to popular opinion, cacao is a poor source of caffeine.
What to Look for When Selecting Chocolate
The closer your cocoa is to its natural raw state, the higher its nutritional value. Ideally, your chocolate or cocoa should be consumed raw (cacao) at 80% or higher. The health benefits mentioned in this article comes from raw dark organic chocolate. So are many, however Pana and Loving Earth are just two of my favourite brands.