Rich, mouthwateringly sweet and bitter, smooth and irresistible. These are the sensations that mostly describe the feeling of eating chocolate.
Here at The Healthy Mummy we are all about balance, with a holistic approach to eating ALL foods in moderation using the 28 Day Weight Loss Challenge as a tool to assist the balance, and incorporating foods that make you feel good from the inside out!
And, according to Rob Hobson, a leading registered nutritionist and author of Cheats & Eats, chocolate IS one of them.
Keep reading to see how chocolate can affect your mood AND your heart and mind, in a good way!
Considered to be the ultimate comfort food, mood changer and universal gift, chocolate is up there on most people’s favourite’s list. So is it really healthy and how?
The health benefits stem from cocoa and not chocolate as such as Rob states, “Cocoa is a rich source of minerals including magnesium (helps to maintain healthy bones and promote muscle relaxation), iron (helps to maintain healthy red blood cell production) and zinc (helps to make new cells in the body).”
Cocoa also contains a large range of antioxidants called flavanols, which link cocoa to disease prevention (more on this below).
Keeping chocolate consumption to a healthy moderation is the key to reaping all the health benefits chocolate actually has to give!
How can you make chocolate even healthier? Well for starters, we have endless chocolate recipes on that have been made healthy so you can enjoy a balanced and guilt-free diet!
Also try to stick to dark varieties that contain more than 70 percent cocoa. Read up on what we think is the best dark chocolate to buy at the supermarket to make your choice all the more simple!
Ever felt a sense of warmth and happiness when eating your favourite chocolate? There is a reason…cocoa increases the levels of several chemicals, one being Phenylethylamine, in the brain that are linked to mood, says Rob.
Phenylethylamine and tryptophan have been shown to boost mood and convert to seratonine, the feel good hormone, hence the happiness when tucking into some Chocolate fudge.
Rob also found that the flavanols (antioxidants) in cocoa are thought to dilate the arteries, which improves elasticity and may reduce the risk of heart attack.
“Findings from a large analysis of seven studies carried out by researchers at Cambridge University found that both men and women with the highest intake of cacao/dark chocolate were 37 percent less likely to suffer with coronary heart disease and 29 percent less likely to experience a stroke compared to those with the lowest intakes,” Rob states.
Researchers from Adelaide University also found that drinking cocoa significantly lowers blood pressure when compared to a flavanol-free placebo drink. Why not try our Healthy Mummy chocolate smoothie, for your next hit of cocoa.
Rob says, “Various studies have shown that drinking cocoa at least 5 days of the week boosts the flow of blood to the parts of the brain that help with cognition and can improve performance and alertness.”
The antioxidants in cocoa are also said to help neutralise the low-grade inflammation associated with ‘foggy’ thoughts, something upcoming mums with baby brain (it does exist) may want to consider!
With room for an evening snack every night on The Healthy Mummy meal plans, add your cocoa here or try our Healthy Mummy smoothie range which boasts more than 10 flavours (including chocolate).
Download your free smoothie sampler here to give you an idea of how EASY the Healthy Mummy Smoothie Recipes are.
If these findings have been of interest to you try healthily incorporating cocoa into your diet by following our 28 Day Weight Loss Challenge where our meal plans are designed in a way to incorporate everything your body needs to function to its optimum in a moderate way.
If you are wanting to lose weight and improve your energy – not to mention – help improve your overall health and wellbeing – our 28 Day Weight Loss Challenge is an awesome program to check out.
Our 28 Day Weight Loss Challenge includes: