It’s Easter, and chocolate is all around! But we are digging deeper and focusing on cacao, the magical ingredient at the heart of chocolate. We reached out to Health & Happiness Coach, Vivienne Robinson, of PB&J to find out about some of the health benefits of cacao and she also offered up some alternative ways to enjoy this little bean over the Easter weekend.
Cacao contains iron that can be easily absorbed by the body, which helps to keep our energy levels up. Two of the more iron-rich ways to enjoy it are unsweetened cocoa powder and dark chocolate with a minimum of 70% cocoa solids or higher.
Plain dark chocolate is included in the anti-inflammatory food pyramid created by Dr Weil, a leading practitioner and teacher of integrative medicine. In this pyramid, he suggests savouring about 30g of dark chocolate (70% or higher), several times a week. Editor's note: We’re personally very happy to take that recommendation!
Cacao is a rich source of polyphenols which are thought to provide many health benefits such as improved blood flow, lower blood pressure, and improved cholesterol, blood sugar levels and even improved brain function… that's a pretty impressive list!
Cacao does actually make us happy and relaxed! Cacao helps our bodies to produce serotonin, often called a happy hormone. To get the most benefit, quality and quantity are key. Choose bars of chocolate that are 70% or higher, as they have more cocoa solids which contain more of the health giving polyphenols. Higher cocoa solids often means there's less sugar too. Check the ingredients list and go for options that list cocoa solids first.
Look for brands with a purpose and feel good knowing that you are bringing parity to the chocolate supply chain. Shockingly, slavery and illegal child labour still exists in the chocolate industry. Tony's Chocolonely has a roadmap to 100% slave-free chocolate, buying their bars helps us to be part of the solution, and brands that carry the Fairtrade logo are also working towards fairer pay and better working conditions.
Remember, it doesn’t have to be all about the Egg this Easter! There are other ways to enjoy cacao - here's a little bonus list from Viv…
Head over to PB&J and follow Viv for more recipes, recommendations and motivational tips.
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