By: Stephanie Heino
This time of year, people take the opportunity to indulge a little (a lot!) extra in chocolate. You don’t necessarily have to say no to that delicious piece of chocolate, but make sure it is 70% or darker in order to get the maximum health benefits. In fact, if you are looking to lower your blood pressure or boost your mood, a bite of dark chocolate might be the perfect answer. The cocoa found in some of your favorite desserts contains many super powers that can help improve your health such as cardiovascular system (mainly in the form of flavonoids). You might have noticed that chocolate often gives an instant feeling of happiness—this is due to the rush of dopamine that triggers the brain’s pleasure receptors, and endorphins which provide a natural high kind of feeling. But as with any sweet treat, even this one should be eaten in modest portions because it is high in calories, but at least you can go to the dark side in a delicious, healthy way. If you, like us, don’t buy the chocolate sold in stores, try making those easy, raw and delicious desserts from Valentine’s Day!
Discover 5 reasons why you should add dark chocolate to your diet for better health:
Flavonoids. Dark chocolate contains flavonoids, a type of chemical found naturally in plants. These phytochemicals are known to help fight a wide array of diseases, including heart disease and diabetes. Make sure you’re getting all of the benefits of flavonoids by buying dark chocolate that is at least 70% cocoa. If you aren’t sure, look for bars with “pure,” “dark” or “unprocessed” on the label. Flavonols (the type of flavonoid found in chocolate) help your skin look its best. Those antioxidants help your skin protect itself from UV damage (hello, fewer wrinkles) fight free radicals (so long, sun spots) as well as improving skin hydration and thickness – which both are important for young-looking skin. Read more about this later in the article!
Lowering Blood Pressure. High blood pressure can be combated with a small daily dose of dark chocolate. We now know that the flavonols found in cocoa can thin blood and relax blood vessels. If you are worried about high blood pressure, even a small amount, like a sprinkle of cocoa or raw cacao on your quinoa porridge every day, can help lower your numbers.
Mood Booster. When you’re feeling down, sometimes there’s nothing better than eating chocolate (hello, PMS!). And as it turns out, there is a scientific reason why chocolate is so often the perfect answer for a case of the blues. This miracle food contains hundreds of compounds that boost endorphins and serotonin, two of the best-known chemicals that are responsible for making us feel happy. Next time you need a quick mood boost, try making yourself a cup of organic hot cocoa (sweetened with stevia, of course), and your day is sure to turn out more delicious.
Stress Reducer. Dark chocolate also helps combat beauty’s public enemy number one: Stress. Cocoa helps reduce stress hormones, which means less collagen breakdown in the skin, and fewer wrinkles.
It helps boost your immune system. Dark chocolate may help suppress T-cell activity in your immune system, making it an amazing fighter against certain conditions such as psoriasis and chronic fatigue syndrome.
Cocoa for Beauty
When it comes to beauty; cocoa butter (the cream-colored fat that’s extracted from cocoa beans) is widely used in cosmetics, soaps, lotions, and other skincare products thanks to its moisturizing properties (the most stable, highly concentrated fats). So if you are looking for a moisturizer that’s affordable, naturally sweet-smelling and easily absorbed by the skin (melting at body temperature), make sure to pick up some beauty products containing cocoa butter next time you go shop for beauty products!
Here is 6 reasons why you should use cocoa butter in your beauty regiment:
Help Reduce Skin Conditions. Cocoa butter has been known to treat eczema and dermatitis. Thank the cocoa mass polyphenol (CMP) in cocoa butter: CMP inhibits the production of immonu globulin, which tends to worsen the symptoms of dermatitis and asthma.
It may help prevent cancer. Studies have shown that CMP helps inhibit the growth of cancer cells. CMP inhibits cancer cell and tumor growth by preventing the oxidation of good cholesterol and the production of inflammatory cells.
Prevent Stretch Marks. Ever wonder why pregnant women reach for cocoa butter-enriched products to rub on their bellies? Cocoa butter is loaded with vitamins A, B1, B2, B3, C, and E. Paired with its ability to moisturize like no other, cocoa butter is said to be the best ingredient to prevent stretch marks. While cocoa butter can’t entirely erase them, it is able to reduce their appearance remarkably!
Anti-aging Properties. Cocoa butter is rich in antioxidants, which help in fighting off free radicals. Free radicals destroy healthy skin cells, damaging your skin and making it age faster. An added bonus: cocoa butter may also protect your skin from the harmful effects of the sun’s UV rays.
Skin Softener. As mentioned above cocoa contains antioxidants that work toward repairing damaged skin. This will make your skin softer, especially when paired with other homeopathic skins cures like raw honey. Next time you are giving yourself a manicure, use a homemade cocoa lotion made out of yogurt, honey and cocoa powder, works wonder for winter-dry hands!
Hair Moisturizer. The benefits of using cocoa butter on hair are increased manageability and moisture. Cocoa butter can help prevent hair loss due to breakage or extra fine texture. It can also help alleviate scalp itching and irritation. Another benefit of using cocoa butter on hair is the prevention of chemical damage.
I will make sure to invest in some beauty products containing cocoa butter next time I go shopping, you should too!