Difficult to talk about Valentine's Day without thinking of roses, candlelit dinners, and... chocolate! Whether it's a gift from your significant other or a box you treat yourself to as a single person, planning to enjoy it while watching "P.S. I Love You," it's hard to have a proper Valentine's Day without indulging in chocolate. A source of pleasure and despair for many, chocolate is nevertheless an interesting food to incorporate into your diet occasionally. Here are 5 health benefits of chocolate and 5 guilt-free chocolate or cocoa-based recipes.
1. Abundant in Antioxidants for Heart Health
Chocolate is rich in certain antioxidants called flavonoids. It has even been shown that chocolate has a higher antioxidant activity than green tea and red wine (1). The antioxidants in chocolate appear to have protective effects against cardiovascular diseases (2). In fact, regular chocolate consumption has been shown to reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases in healthy adults (3).
2. Beneficial for Hypertension
In a study, it was observed that elderly hypertensive individuals who consumed 100 grams of dark chocolate per day for 15 days lowered their blood pressure and increased their blood flow (4). This effect can once again be attributed to the flavonoids present in chocolate.
3. Rich in...
Chocolate is also rich in several micronutrients, including iron, copper, and manganese. These micronutrients are important for red blood cell formation and oxygen transport to cells (iron), allergic reactions and neurotransmitter formation (copper), as well as bone formation and various chemical reactions in the body (manganese).
4. Improvement of Cognitive Functions
Indeed, a study in 2015 reported increased cognitive functions in elderly individuals after consuming black cocoa flavonoids for 8 weeks (5). That's a good reason to have some chocolate before an exam!
5. Source of Happiness
Chocolate is a source of comfort and happiness for many! Interestingly, it contains certain compounds that are believed to improve mood, such as anandamide, caffeine, phenylethylamines, and magnesium (6). However, the concentration of these compounds is so low that it is unlikely for them to have a significant effect on mood. It is important to note that not all types of chocolate are created equal. The beneficial properties come from cocoa, which is found in higher proportions in dark chocolate. However, it is present in very low quantities in white chocolate.
5 varied recipes containing cocoa or chocolate
These little chocolate treats are simple and delicious, a real delight for the whole family. They are perfect as a dessert or an energy-boosting snack.
Imagine starting your day with a combination of coffee and chocolate. A true dream! This smoothie is enriched with raspberries and topped with our cocoa granola (see recipe #5), making it my favorite breakfast on training days.
It's impossible to talk about chocolate without including a recipe for zucchini brownies! These brownies are perfect for subtly incorporating legumes into the family's diet while retaining the delicious flavor of chocolate in this classic dessert.
A must-have for cold winter days (which we know all too well at the moment!), here is a recipe for hot chocolate using much healthier ingredients than the commercial version. You can warm up while savouring this delicious chocolatey beverage.
Store-bought granolas are often high in sugar and fats, but our homemade granola is almost fat-free and naturally sweetened with fruit puree. With its intense cocoa flavor, it's a perfect choice for a healthy and delicious breakfast.
These chocolate recipes will allow you to satisfy your cravings without guilt. Enjoy these easy-to-prepare, flavourful chocolate delights with your family.
For more info…
1. Lee KW, Kim YJ, Lee HJ, Lee CY. Cocoa has more phenolic phytochemicals and a higher antioxidants capacity than teas and red wine. J Agri Food Chem 2003; 51(25):7292-7295
2. Steinberg FM, Bearden MM, Keen CL. Cocoa and chocolate flavonoids: implications for cardiovascular health. J Am Diet Assoc 2003; 103(2): 215-23
3. Kwok CS, Boekholdt SM, Lentjes MA, et al. Habitual chocolate consumption and risk of cardiovascular disease among healthy men and women. Heart. 2015;101(16):1279-1287.
4. Grassi D, Necozione S, Lippi C, et al. Cocoa reduces blood pressure and insulin resistance and improves endothelium-dependent vasodilation in hypertensives. Hypertension. 2005;46(2):398-405
5.Mastroiacovo D, Kwik-Uribe C, Grassi D, et al. Cocoa flavanol consumption improves cognitive function, blood pressure control, and metabolic profile in elderly subjects: the Cocoa, Cognition, and Aging (CoCoA) Study—a randomized controlled trial. Am J Clin Nutr. 2015;101(3):538-548.
6. Benton D, Donohoe RT. The effects of nutrients on mood. Public Health Nutr 1999; 2(3A): 403-9.