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ALISON GATT - BA [Hons], BSc, Dip ION, mBANT CNHC  


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31.10.2014

CHOCOLATE - TRICK OR TREAT?



Food of the gods! The Royal Aztecs drunk a bitter, spicy, frothy drink called xocoatl. Today we know it as chocolate.  Like gold to the conquistadores, the cocoa beans were very precious, so much so, they were used as a currency.

 

In modern times, chocolate is still worshipped all over the world. Yet, it is often perceived as the irresistible temptation and sinful indulgence.

So, for this Halloween, lets take a closer look at this edible gold and find out if it is a trick or treat!

 

Treat?

Good news! Chocolate is rich in antioxidants and stearic acid. This gives it many health benefits such as lowering blood pressure, maintaining healthy blood vessels and reducing ‘bad’ cholesterol - the darker the chocolate the better.

 

Chocolate is also a good source of iron and magnesium. Many pre-menstrual women crave chocolate every month. This is possibly because it’s the body’s natural way of replenishing the iron lost during menstruation and providing  magnesium to avoid muscle cramps. Following this thread, chocolate also contains serotonin, the ‘happy’ hormone, which can help to control mood swings associated with PMS.  Again, the darker the chocolate, the higher the serotonin levels.

 

What about the stimulants? Chocolate does contain caffeine and another stimulant called theobromine. However, recent research has shown that the latter can actually improve both mood and cognitive functions.  Interestingly enough, the caffeine content of a 50g bar of dark chocolate is significantly lower than the caffeine content in cup of coffee. 

 

 

Trick?

This does not mean that we can start indulging in too much too often! Beware, milk chocolate has double the quantity of sugar than dark chocolate and it is the sugar content that is linked to weight gain, diabetes and hormonal imbalances.  In addition, some people are also allergic to cocoa, the main ingredient in chocolate. This could explain why some people suffer from migraines and/or palpitations after eating it.  

 

Chocolate also varies in quality, so the antioxidants, caffeine levels etc will differ from brand to brand. This is why I make my own chocolate treats using pure cocoa powder  (See chocolate almond recipe – Valentine’s blog Feb 2014).

 

So it seems that indulging in chocolate can be both a ‘trick’ and a ‘treat’.  Good quality dark chocolate seems to have more health benefits but like everything, moderation is the key to success.  Naturally High wishes you Happy Halloween!

 

CHOCOLATE BROWNIES

 

Ingredients

1 cup of pecans or walnuts

1 cup of dates

5 tablespoons raw cacao (cocoa powder)

4 tbsp unsweetened coconuts flakes

2 tbsp agave nectar or honey

¼ tsp salt

 

Method

1   Put the pecans into the blender and ground them

2)  Add the dates to the blender and whiz until sticky

3)   Add all the other ingredients and whiz til dark chocolate colour, but not too buttery.

4)  Roll mixture into balls and put on a plate in the fridge.  

 

Eat as a treat!

 

 













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