Dark Raw Chocolate Supports A Healthy Gut
Chocolate as we know it is associated with unhealthy characteristics such as high sugar content and is seen as more of a junk food than a health food. But dark, raw chocolate or cacao (not the typical cocoa) has many health benefits and is even considered a superfood.
Processed chocolate is subjected to high heat and chemicals and loses much of the health benefits of raw cacao. Raw cacao is loaded with nutrition and special substances such as polyphenols called flavonoids which are powerful anti-oxidants that combat the free radicals that promote aging, and improve the cardiovascular system in many ways. Cacao also contains phenylethylamine (PEA) which is famous as the “love molecule” that has been found in higher amounts in the brains of people who are currently “in love”.
But raw cacao is also a source of pre-biotic and pro-biotic fibers that nourish the healthy gut flora we all need for good physical and mental health. Pre-biotics like fiber feed the good flora. 80% of the immune system is located in the gut so keeping the good flora happy is essential for overall health. The helpful microbes, including Bifidobacterium and lactic acid bacteria ferment and break down the large polyphenolic polymers in cacao down into smaller, anti-inflammatory molecules. Control of inflammation helps prevent or improve hundreds of health issues.
You can use organic, raw dark chocolate as it is in savory dishes and stews, or add in natural sweeteners such as coconut crystals or stevia leaf extracts for a sweeter taste.
Keep reading below to get more of the story of healthy chocolate!
The many known benefits of raw cacao
Up until recently, researchers knew that raw cacao was good for us but could not exactly pinpoint just why it was so. Some of the many known health benefits include:
Cacao beans are rich in polyphenols called flavonoids, which have been found to have antioxidant properties. In fact, they contain eight times the number of antioxidants found in strawberries. Studies have shown that antioxidants protect the cells and combat the free radicals that contribute to aging.
Flavonoids may also contribute to a healthy heart. They have been linked to improving circulation, lowering blood pressure, and reducing the plaque that can build up on artery walls. The minerals in cacao also contribute to the health of the cardiovascular system.
Theobromine, an alkaloid found in cacao, has been linked to stimulating the central nervous system and providing the body with a boost of energy. Cacao also contains phenylethylamine (PEA), which affects brain chemistry in a similar fashion to falling in love. Cacao has been linked to increasing the availability of neurotransmitters such as serotonin, which can elevate your mood and even lessen depression.
The serotonin content of chocolate also explains why larger quantities of chocolate are eaten in winter than any other season. As many people become deficient in vitamin D in the winter months, due to lack of sunlight, and may experience Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), chocolate can help balance out the winter blahs.
A study published in the British Medical Journal observed that a daily dose (with a polyphenol content equal to 100 grams) of dark chocolate can reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke in people with metabolic syndrome. According to the research, if all study participants ate dark chocolate daily, 70 non-fatal and 15 fatal cardiovascular events per every 10,000 people would be averted over a ten-year period.
Thanks to The Alternative Daily for this great article. There is lots more to it so read on…