NUTRITION // x Näring Collective: Health Benefits of Chocolate
Happy Chocolate Day! I mean Valentine’s, obviously. But isn’t today just an excuse to indulge in our favourite yummy confection? In the name of nutrition, Näring would like to present the benefits of eating chocolate. Not to encourage you to eat chocolate and only chocolate on a day dedicated to it, but to discourage any and all guilt you may feel when you grab a piece to snack on now and then.
So what are these BENEFITS?!
**Note: Most of these benefits are probably not what you were hoping to hear
1. It may decrease the likelihood of a craving.
When you allow yourself to have a small portion of something you enjoy, be it cake, chocolate, candy, chips etc. you are decreasing the likelihood that you will suffer an unbearable craving for it compared to if you restrict yourself from having what you’re craving. Our brains like to fixate on things we tell ourselves we shouldn’t have.
2. It will decrease the likelihood of a binge.
Depriving yourself of something yummy that you love – like chocolate – will only increase the likelihood that you will completely binge on it on a day like valentine’s day or a cheat day. A tiny piece of chocolate every day may keep you satisfied and not starving for something sweet.
3. Heart Health.
Some* studies show that eating chocolate that contains plant sterols and cocoa flavonols, and that is low in sugar and fat may help reduce one’s risk of a heart attack by lowering cholesterol and improving blood pressure.
Some* studies suggest that hot chocolate improves blood flow to certain parts of the brain that may prevent decline in memory in elderly people. Other studies show that a certain extract of cocoa could reduce or prevent damage to nerve pathways that are associated with Alzheimer’s Disease.
5. Mood and Energy.
Some* studies also show that eating milk or dark chocolate may help improve anxious states and energy levels in those that experience anxiety. Funny enough the same can be said for crackers and cheese. Who would have guessed!
*These claims are based on few studies, aren’t conclusive of direct benefit, and do not suggest a diet high in chocolate as beneficial.
I recently had the chance to try out a really yummy chocolate energy ball recipe. Check it out below, try it for yourself, and let us know what you think!
CHOCOLATE ENERGY BALLS
1 cup old-fashioned oats
3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
⅓ + ¼ cup sweetened shredded coconut, divided
½ cup ground flaxseed
⅓ cup dried cranberries, roughly chopped
1 tablespoon chia seeds
¼ cup chocolate or mini chocolate chips
dash of salt, to taste
½ cup peanut butter
⅓ cup honey, raw
2 tablespoons coconut oil
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
⅓ almond flakes, lightly toasted and crushed
In a medium bowl, stir together the oats, cocoa powder, ⅓ cup coconut, ground flaxseed, cranberries, chia seeds, chocolate and salt
In another small bowl, melt the peanut butter, honey, and coconut oil in the microwave 10 second increments, stirring after each increment until completely combined. Stir in vanilla. Add wet ingredients to dry and stir well until fully combined.
In a small shallow bowl, stir together the almond flakes and ¼ cup coconut. Using wet hands, roll the oat mixture into balls (mine were about 1-inch in diameter) and then roll them around in the bowl of coconut and almonds for the outer coating. Place in the refrigerator to set.
Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.