Health benefits of dark chocolate

Horray! Chocolate is good for us! So drop the guilt and enjoy an all around favourite (in moderation, of course!).

 

With Valentine’s Day coming up, let’s have a look into our favourite sweet treat and learn some of the many health benefits that chocolate has to offer!

 

  • It’s a source of plant sterols, a natural cholesterol reducer.

 

  • Dark chocolate is a source of powerful antioxidants, which provide beneficial heart health properties and are known to help lower cholesterol levels. The darker the chocolate, the more antioxidants it contains so be sure to go for at least 70% cocoa to get the most out of your indulgence!

 

  • Cocoa contains magnesium, a mineral known for its ability to produce energy and relax our systems, helping to improve bowels and sleep. Unsweetened cocoa powder gives us a whopping 500 mg per cup.

 

  • Dark chocolate boosts our feel-good brain chemicals such as serotonin and dopamine, making it a ‘happy food’ and natural mood enhancer.

 

  • It contains healthy fats, such as oleic acid (the same monounsaturated fat that is found in olive oils). These heart healthy fats are good for your skin, hair and cells.

 

  • Dark chocolate can lower your blood pressure by improving blood flow, making it good for your heart

 

Here are some healthy and delicious chocolate recipes to try out this Valentine’s Day.

 

Black bean brownies

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 (15-ounce) can no-salt-added black beans, drained and rinse
  • 3 large organic eggs
  • 1/3 cup melted butter or coconut oil, extra for the baking dish
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon sea salt
  • 2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons coconut sugar
  • 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped walnuts (optional)

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Butter an 8-inch baking pan. Place the black beans, eggs, melted butter/coconut oil, cocoa powder, sea salt, vanilla, and coconut sugar in the bowl of a food processor and blend until smooth. Remove the blade and carefully stir in the chocolate chips and walnuts. Transfer mixture to the prepared pan.
  3. Bake the brownies for 30 to 35 minutes, or until just set in the center. Cool before cutting into squares.

Makes 20-25 brownies

Nutritional Analysis: 138 calories, 5.4g fat, 18g carbohydrates, 3.1g fiber, 5.3g protein

 

Chocolate avocado mousse 

INGREDIENTS

  • 1/4 cup raw honey, organic maple syrup or brown rice syrup
  • 2 ripe avocados
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup raw unsweetened cocoa powder
  • Pinch of sea salt and cinnamon

 

DIRECTIONS

  1. Combine all the ingredients in a blender or food processor by adding the honey first, followed by the avocado, vanilla and cocoa.
  2. Blend or process for about 30 seconds until smooth and creamy.
  3. Add a splash of water to make a lighter mousse.
  4. Taste and adjust sweetness if needed.
  5. Spoon into a bowl and allow to set in fridge until cool.

Serves 10

Nutritional Analysis: 119 calories, 8g fat, 12g carbohydrates, 4g fiber, 2g protein

 

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