If you’re a chocolate lover like me, you probably don’t need any more reasons to adore it, besides its heavenly flavor.
At this point, we’ve all heard that chocolate can be good for you, which sounds perfect. But the truth is that cacao is even a healthier alternative for you.
Sadly, most of the chocolate products you find in stores are high in calories, with high amounts of sugar and unhealthy oils.
On the other hand, cacao, the purest form of chocolate, is called a superfood because it offers impressive health and nutrition benefits.
For example, unlike processed chocolate, cacao retains its high antioxidant content.
According to a 2008 study published in the “Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry,” 60-90% of the original antioxidants in cacao are lost through “Dutch processing”, a technique developed in the early 19th Century to reduce chocolate’s bitterness.
That’s why cacao is the better option if you want to reap all the benefits of chocolate.
Here are our top 5 cacao benefits.
There’s a good reason why eating chocolate makes us happy and relaxed. Cacao is a great source of four happiness neurotransmitters – serotonin, tryptophan, tyrosine, and phenylethylamine. These are associated with feelings of wellbeing, happiness, and can even alleviate depression symptoms.
Cacao’s polyphenols (the protective chemicals found in plant foods) have an aspirin-like effect and prevent the clumping of blood platelets. This is very important because the clumping of platelets can lead to atherosclerosis or the hardening and narrowing of the arteries due to a buildup of fat and cholesterol.
A 2011 study published in “The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition” saw a 32% reduction of calcified plaque in the arteries when chocolate was consumed two or more times per week.
Phenylethylamine (PEA) is usually released when you feel excited or in love, and also allows you to be more focused and aware.
Cacao also contains Anandamide, also known as the “bliss molecule,” which produces a feeling of euphoria.
Reduced heart disease risk.
Cacao powder contains lots of Magnesium and Potassium. Both have been proven to decrease the risk of heart disease, and are super important for a healthy heart.
It’s good for your brain.
In addition to improving your mood, Cacao may lessen your risk of neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.
The flavanols in dark chocolate have been scientifically proven to relax the arteries and increase the flow of oxygen to the brain.
A two-week study in 34 older adults given high-flavanol cocoa found blood flow to the brain increased by 8% after one week and 10% after two weeks.
Reduced blood pressure.
Cocoa may be able to help lower blood pressure.
The flavonols in dark chocolate can stimulate the lining of the arteries, known as the endothelium, to produce nitric oxide. Nitric oxide signals the arteries to relax, which promotes normal blood pressure.
These nutrients can help lower blood pressure, improve blood flow to the brain and heart, and aid in preventing blood clots.
Research also shows that consuming a small amount of dark chocolate every day can lower blood pressure in those with mild hypertension.
Improved symptoms of type 2 diabetes.
The flavonoids in cacao may also help increase insulin sensitivity.
Consuming dark chocolate may be especially beneficial for those who have type 2 diabetes,
Researchers at the Institute of Food Science and Technology and Nutrition found cocoa flavanols can slow down carbohydrate digestion and absorption in the gut, improve insulin secretion, reduce inflammation and stimulate the uptake of sugar out of the blood into the muscle.
However, they do warn against consuming chocolate that is high in sugar.
Knowing all these benefits, at Gigi treats we only work this the best quality, healthy ingredients, including chocolate.