Ok, it’s taking me some time to get this blog up and running but having to work, cook and play doesn’t really leave place for much else!
Easter is upon us! so I figured I’d make my first post about something everyone in the primal community seems to love and enjoy although some still believe it can’t be good for you and should be used as a “treat”. Well, I’m here to change that.
Ongoing research shows that eating dark chocolate exerts beneficial effects throughout the whole body. High quality chocolate delivers disease-zapping antioxidants, lowers blood pressure and protects your heart and liver, all in one fell crunch.
Dark chocolate contains more flavanols and polyphenols than fruit juice.
Now let me be specific on what “dark” is, we are looking for a cocoa solids percentage of over 70% in an attempt to keep the sugar content low. Any lower than that and you start losing any benefits and just adding sugar to your diet. Be sure to pick quality ingredients and go organic where possible, some cocoa beans are highly processed and sprayed with all sorts of nasty stuff to keep the bugs at bay (same applies for coffee) choosing organic over any other brands will make sure that you are eating quality cocoa and you are doing good to your body!
I’ve been testing several brands lately and whilst 100% seems to be too hardcore for my taste buds I can now handle Lindt’s 99% without having to reach for a cup of coffee to go with it (more antioxidants anyone?).
My favourite though has to be Green & Black’s Organic 85%, the vanilla notes in the bar are really powerful and it literally just melts in your mouth in a matter of seconds, it’s creamy and with a nice texture, furthermore it contains no soy lecithin (even though the soy content in Lindt’s is really low) which is a plus to all of us avoiding gluten, dairy and soy.
The important thing is that the antioxidants in dark chocolate can significantly reduce blood pressure in patients with hypertension. According to researchers from the University of Adelaide, flavanols promote vasodilation, which may consequently lower blood pressure.
“There have, however, been conflicting results as to the real-life effects of eating chocolate. We’ve found that consumption can significantly, albeit modestly, reduce blood pressure for people with high blood pressure but not for people with normal blood pressure.” added Dr Karin Ried, who is program manager and research fellow of the PHCRED (Primary Health Care Research Evaluation & Development) program at The University of Adelaide. The analysis concluded that the pressure reduction caused by chocolate consumption was comparable to the effects of 30 minutes of daily physical activity.
Great! But… how much is enough?
Now we know dark chocolate is good for us and tastes great too! But you may ask yourself, “how much of the stuff can I eat safely?” Well, my answer is eat as much as you like, as with any other primal foods eat until you feel you’ve had enough. The ingredients in dark chocolate should all be natural (if they aren’t drop that sugar loaded candy bar immediately!) so you should be able to sense when it’s enough.
Now may folks would say they don’t have control and bla bla bla, well for those in that group let’s just say that with as little as 20 grams a day you get to reap all the benefits of eating dark chocolate as well as a good dose of theobromine (much better for your coughs than the nasty stuff your doc recommended).
If you are insulin resistant or have any kind of metabolic condition though, please be aware that your goal is to maintain your blood sugar stable and your insulin down at all times, opt for a higher percentage of cocoa (85%+) and eat a couple of squares max, the sugar content of those two squares would be somewhere between 1-2 grams, no big deal.
My top 5 dark chocolate bars
Now that we have talked about what it does to you let me recommend you my favourite ones!
1- Green & Blacks Organic 85% Dark Chocolate.
http://www.amazon.co.uk/Green-Blacks-Dark-Chocolate-100g/dp/B0013G4HRW/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1302690012&sr=8-3 – As mentioned before the taste on this one is just amazing, powerful madagascan vanilla notes, creamy and melts great.
2- Lindt Excellence 99% Very Dark Chocolate.
http://shop.lindt.com/uk/excellence-100g.html – Bitter and almost 100% cocoa solids content, a very rich cocoa flavour which takes some time to build up to. If you are already a master of dark chocolate try it, you won’t be disappointed.
3- Montezuma’s Peru 70% Dark Organic.
http://www.montezumas.co.uk/bars/createapack.asp?&r=11&g=72&i=1434&pg=1 – Now this one would be too sweet for some, it’s a 70% yes but this Montezuma’s bar tastes like cranberries and chocolate I swear. It is amazing!
4- Hotel Chocolat 90% Purist Organic Dark Chocolate Bar.
http://www.hotelchocolat.co.uk/Purist-Bar–90-Dark-Organic–Hacienda-iara-Ecuador-P240064/ – Nutty taste and some herbal hints on this one, really good for that afternoon coffee or an after dinner with strawberries and cinnamon.
5- Divine 70% Dark Chocolate with Ginger and Orange.
http://www.divinechocolate.com/products/OrangeGinger.aspx – A higher sugar content than I would like to eat on a daily basis but this bar boosts your mood instantly! The orange and ginger combination works superb and it melts in your mouth smoothly. A must try.
There you have it folks!
Eat more dark chocolate and feel great about it!