Chocolate, choccies, candy; whatever you call it, we all know that it is made from the seed of the cocoa tree, but did you know it’s also one of the best sources of antioxidants on the planet, and can have positive effects on your health!
Here we discover just a few of the health benefits of dark chocolate.
Nutritious and delicious
Packed choc-full of fibre, iron, magnesium, copper plus loaded with a variety of antioxidants, a good quality dark chocolate is not only totally tasty, but also good for you! In fact, studies have shown that dark chocolate is higher in antioxidants than any other fruits tested.
Good for your Heart
Compounds in cocoa have been shown to have the potential to improve blood flow in the arteries and a decrease in blood pressure. Dark chocolate also improves several risk factors for heart disease – including improving insulin sensitivity.
Your skin loves chocolate too
Flavanols in dark chocolate can protect against sun damage, improve blood flow to the skin and increase skin density and hydration.
It can even improve brain function
One study showed that eating high-flavanol cocoa for five days improved blood flow to the brain. By increasing blood flow, dark chocolate may improve your brain function, and may even improve cognitive impairment.
Everything in moderation
Whilst there have been considerable studies that recognise the possible health benefits of eating dark chocolate, it is also important to remember that not all dark chocolate is created equal. There are a lot of great quality dark chocolates on the market, but there is a lot of junky dark sugar-filled chocolate out there too.
Try to choose the quality stuff – the greater the cocoa content, the greater the potential health benefits – aim for 70% or higher, or better still, have a go at making your own healthy chocolate- that way you will know exactly what’s in it! Check out our recipe below.
Dark Chocolate Almond Bars
Total time: 50 minutes
Makes: 12 bars
- 1 cup cacao butter
- 1/3 – 1/2 cup maple syrup (depending on taste preference)
- 1 cup cacao powder or unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup roasted almonds (or other toppings)
- 1/8 tsp sea salt
- Melt cacao butter in a glass mixing bowl set over a small saucepan with 1 inch of water over medium heat. Alternatively, melt in the microwave in a mixing bowl until completely liquid.
- Once melted, remove from heat and add maple syrup and whisk to combine. When the mixture is fully combined with no separation, add the cacao or cocoa powder and vanilla extract. Whisk thoroughly to combine.
- Taste, adjusting sweetness by adding extra maple syrup as desired.
- Pour the chocolate into moulds (if you have them), mini paper cupcake liners, or simply line a baking sheet with parchment paper and pour the chocolate on top. Top with roasted almonds and sprinkle of salt.
- Set in the refrigerator or freezer to harden for 30 minutes to 1 hour.
- Once completely solid, break or cut into pieces/bars. These can be kept at room temperature for serving. But for best freshness, store chocolate in an airtight container or freezer bag in the refrigerator for 2-3 weeks, or the freezer for 1-2 months.
Enjoy in moderation. All chocolate contains sugar, so even though the possible health benefits (not to mention the deliciousness) may tempt you to reach for the choccie box, don’t overdo it, and savour every bite.