The 7th July marked World Chocolate Day. It is unusual to come across a person who doesn’t like chocolate in one form or another – milk, dark, mousse, cake, ice-cream, shake, hot chocolate, chocolate covered nuts, dairy free, sugar free, the list is endless! My personal favourite is dark chocolate; I love that it has health benefits as well as giving me a chocolate fix.
Bitter, sweet and more valuable than gold?
The cocoa bean was first documented to have been used by the Mayans. Cocoa was so highly regarded its value was worth more than gold and used as currency to trade. Chocolate was first introduced to the UK in the 1600s where the aristocracy first enjoyed it – mixing it with sugar to make it sweet, in contrast to the Mayans who would use it as a bitter drink mixed with spices, deeming it as a gift from the gods and a powerful aphrodisiac.
The Mayans knew how potent the properties of the cocoa bean were and luckily that knowledge hasn’t been lost. In fact, the health benefits of chocolate are still being utilised to this day.
Is chocolate good for us?
So why is chocolate so good for us and can we eat any type of chocolate to add in a bit of tasty (healthy) indulgence to our day?
Cocoa is the raw element to any chocolate product and the ingredient that holds all the magic! The less cocoa and the more sugar a piece of chocolate contains, the more diluted the health benefits. So, sadly, reaching for that Cadburys dairy milk or chocolate ice-cream isn’t going to be providing us with any more health benefits than a few teaspoons of sugar will.
Using a raw cocoa powder to make hot chocolate or homemade chocolate treats is the best way of obtaining the best from it. If you can’t make your own, then buying dark chocolate which is over 70% cocoa will be the right choice when considering the most beneficial chocolate option!
Cocoa contains polyphenols which are naturally occurring antioxidants and have been linked to many health benefits such as reducing oxidative stress and inflammation, lowering blood pressure, mood boost and improved brain health.
Cocoa is also a good source of minerals such as magnesium, copper and iron – helping to support the body’s energy production and overall well-being.
In celebration of the healthful use of chocolate in a cool summer treat, here is the recipe for a ‘Raw Chocolate Milkshake Miracle’ – a recipe put together by the chef and naturopath Sarah Britton, who comments;
“This recipe really does taste brownie-tastic, yet contains no unhealthy or processed ingredients, just pure plant goodness and raw cacao. Loaded with antioxidants and healthy essential omega and polyunsaturated fatty acids, this smoothie will have you singing and dancing and ready to take on your day!”
Raw Chocolate Milkshake Miracle
- ¼ cup hemp seeds (or use soaked almonds, cashews, sunflower seeds etc)
- 2 heaping tbsp raw cacao powder
- 1 avocado
- 1 very large frozen banana (or 2 small)
- 2 tbsp raw honey, agave, or maple syrup
- Dash of sea salt
- ¾ – 1 cup water
- 4 ice cubes
- Blend all the ingredients together; add water to thin if desired. It’s a thick one, folks!
- Although the urge to chug may take over, don’t forget to ‘chew’ your milkshake for better digestion! Very important.