Tag Archives: Chocolate

Chocolate: when health meets pleasure!

Luscious and decadent, chocolate is a guilty pleasure that children and adults alike enjoy for it embodies pleasure, warmth and joy. Dark or white, powder or rectangles in neat rows of four – chocolate is much like wine. Everyone has their favourite type, individual taste and brand preferences, and ones they really dislike. But did you know that the earliest documented use of cacao dates back to the ancient Mayan civilization? It was consumed for nutritional and therapeutic purposes and it’s no wonder it was referred to as “Food of the Gods” by the Mayans.

Chocolate has a stimulating effect on the central nervous system mainly attributed to the compound theobromine and to a lesser extent, its chemical cousin, caffeine. Theobromine possesses bronchodilatory (ability to relax respiratory muscles to increase airflow to lungs) and vasodilatory properties (ability to widen the diameter of blood vessels). Take heed asthmatics and hypertensives! It’s also the substance that gives dark chocolate its typical bitter taste.

Polyphenols are organic molecules, ubiquitous in the plant kingdom which play a vital role in plants. They are products of plant secondary metabolism and participate in the defensive mechanisms of the latter. These are the compounds that confer therapeutic properties to plants. The main classes of polyphenols present in cacao are flavonoids, catechins, anthocyanins, among others.

Like theobromine, the polyphenols present in cacao, especially flavonoids, exert cardioprotective effects. They enhance the production of nitric oxide, a potent vasodilator which, as its name suggests, helps to dilate blood vessels thereby lowering blood pressure and improving blood circulation. Moreover, the polyphenols found in cacao are antioxidant and anti-inflammatory, i.e., they help fight against oxidative stress, which is the root cause of most chronic diseases such as cancer, type 2 diabetes, etc.

Indeed, the long-term consumption of polyphenol-rich cacao has been associated with a reduction in insulin resistance in many clinical studies. More surprisingly, INSERM researcher Astrid Nehlig claims that these polyphenols have the potential to improve cognitive functions (such as memory and speed of treatment) and delay the onset of neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease. According to Magrone et al. (2017), they can also reduce intestinal inflammation and modulate gut microflora composition, including Bifidobacteria and Lactobacilli, which help to maintain gut ecosystem stable through their immunomodulatory properties.

Last but not least, cacao is an excellent source of magnesium, a trace element essential for the proper functioning of the body. Magnesium is referred to as an anti-stress mineral as it promotes relaxation (including muscle), facilitates the transmission of nerve impulses and reduces fatigue. Half a cup of cacao powder provides about 214 mg of magnesium, which is more than half of our daily requirement for magnesium (about 300 mg for women and 400 mg for men).

Choosing the right chocolate…

The numerous virtues cited above are attributed to unprocessed raw cacao powder. However, most of us consume chocolate which is a mixture of cocoa powder, cocoa butter (to give it a silky texture) and sugar (to reduce bitterness). Not to mention that fermentation and roasting, two processes necessary for the development of flavors, reduce the percentage of cacao polyphenols. Yet chocolate can actually be good for you, if properly chosen and moderately eaten (as even dark chocolates with high cocoa content can be caloric!). The higher the cocoa content, the better!  Eating chocolate imparts pleasure, but as with all good things, it’s best in moderation! For maximum health benefits, choose dark chocolate made with at least 70% of cocoa.

Discover our 3 scrumptiously healthy vegan chocolate recipes!

3 scrumptiously healthy vegan chocolate recipes!

A feeling of guilt overwhelms you as you bite into a bar of chocolate or as you allow a chocolate truffle to melt in your mouth? But here’s how health can meet pleasure. Read more

You want chocolate? Here is our selection of 3 scrumptiously healthy vegan recipes you won’t forget!

Orange avocado chocolate truffles

Ingredients

  • 120 g avocado flesh, a small avocado
  • 180 g dark chocolate 70%
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened cacao powder
  • 5 drops of organic sweet orange essential oil
  • 20 g candied orange peel cut into small cubes

Method

  1. Cut the avocado in half, discard the pit and gently remove the flesh with a spoon.
  2. Mash the avocado until a homogeneous mixture is obtained. Add 5 drops of essential oil of organic sweet orange.
  3. Melt the chocolate in a water bath, i.e. in a Pyrex or stainless steel bowl placed over a saucepan of hot water.

Tips: Chop the chocolate into pieces so that it melts easily and quickly and stir it continuously to avoid it getting burnt.

  1. Add the avocado puree and candied orange to the chocolate. Usually it should set pretty easily, if that’s not the case, chill the mixture for 10 minutes (don’t forget to wrap the bowl with cling film as we don’t want our chocolate truffles to collect fridge odors).
  2. Use a spoon to scoop chocolate balls. Roll them between the palms of your hand to create a smooth surface and roll each truffle in cacao powder to coat them and voila!

Source: Rose and Cook

 Vegan chocolate milkshake

Ingredients

  • 2 frozen bananas
  • 220 ml of vegan milk (a mixture of coconut milk and oat milk)
  • 2 tablespoons of cacao powder (or according to your taste)
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla powder
  • small chunks of dark chocolate 70%,
  • Ice cubes (optional)

Method

  1. Blend together the vegan milk, frozen bananas, cacao and vanilla powder.
  2. You may add some ice cubes if you want it cold.
  3. Pour the milkshake into a tall glass and add a few pieces of dark chocolate on top. Enjoy!

Source: L’appartement living

Quinoa coconut cacao bar

Ingredients

List A
  • 6 tbsp coconut oil
  • 2 tbsp coconut butter
  • 4 heaped tbsp of raw cacao powder (or unsweetened cocoa powder if you don’t have cacao)
  • 2 tbsp of maple syrup
  • 1 pinch of salt
List B
  • 1 cup puffed quinoa cereal
  • ¼ cup cranberries
  • ¼ cup pistachios

Method

  1. Melt together the list A ingredients.
  2. Stir in list B ingredients.
  3. Pour uniformly into a lined loaf pan and chill until set.

Source: wholeheartedeats

Daily chocolate intake linked to lower risk of diabetes, heart disease

There is some welcome news for chocolate lovers; new research suggests eating chocolate every day may lower the likelihood of diabetes and heart disease

 

Read the full article at: www.medicalnewstoday.com

Eating chocolate everyday could lower the risk of diabetes and heart disease, particularly when it comes to dark chocolate, say researchers. On top of that, studies also suggest that a daily chocolate consumption can reduced insulin resistance and improved liver enzyme levels. So the nasty question might be : Could dark chocolate be included on dietary recommendations ? Prof.Stranges and colleagues say their findings suggest that chocolate consumption may reduce the risk of developing cardiometabolic disorders by improving liver enzyme levels and protecting against insulin resistance. However, he notes that is important to distinguish the difference between chocolate that contains natural cocoa and processed chocolate; the latter is much higher in calories. « Therefore, physical activity, diet and other lifestyle factors must be carefully balanced to avoid detrimental weight gain over time, » he adds. Let’s make it simple for you! Meet the DietSensor app, the smart food scanner which pairs via Bluetooth with the SCiO sensor, and which has a small infrared sensor on one end. DietSensor is a handheld scanner that connects to an app on your smartphone via Bluetooth. When you point it at your chocolate and click, it’s able to detect its nutritional value and send a detailed report straight to your phone via Bluetooth in seconds. By scanning your food, even homemade, it will take 1 click to log it, 10 times less clicks than manual input methods to input processed food. Isn’t it amazing? So, no excuse, start eating healthy without stopping counting your food intake. You can pre-order dietsensor and the SCiO scanner today and pay on delivery, in September 2016. For the scale, which will be available this year, subscribe to our list https://dietsensor.com/dev/wait-list/