This is part two in our Pure Chocolate Wisdom series of information and scrumptious recipes, sponsored by Pascha Chocolate. Pascha Chocolate is made in a top allergen-free facility (dairy-free and even soy-free!), and is certified organic, vegan, fair trade, kosher, and non-GMO verified.
With its recently achieved “superfood” status, one has to ask: Is chocolate really as healthy as the reports say, or are we just reasoning our chocoholic desires? Last month I reported on 5 Healthy Benefits of Chocolate (from natural sunscreen to a sharper mind), and this month, I’m not only going to stand behind that article, I’m also going to reveal the scientific proof as to why chocolate is healthy!
Researchers at Louisiana State College of Agriculture recently uncovered how our bodies successfully breakdown chocolate to extract its reported health benefits. Cocoa powder, the key component of dark chocolate, contains several antioxidant compounds and a small amount of dietary fiber. Both components are poorly digested and absorbed, but when they reach the colon, good gut bacteria (think probiotics like Bifidobacterium) have a feast (can you blame them?)! The fiber is fermented and the large compounds are broken down into smaller molecules for better absorption.
Once broken down and absorbed, the antioxidants have an anti-inflammatory effect on our bodies. For example, the scientists found that the consuming dark chocolate helped to lessen inflammation of cardiovascular tissue, reducing the long-term risk of stroke.
Their studies also found that combining the fiber in cocoa with prebiotics may provide further health benefits and help to convert those antioxidants in the stomach into anti-inflammatory compounds. Prebiotics (found in notable quantities in foods such as garlic, onions, leeks, and bananas) “feed” the beneficial gut bacteria, helping to increase their population and edge out the bad gut bacteria (such as E.coli) that cause stomach problems.
The lead researcher further shared that people could experience even more health perks when dark chocolate is combined with solid fruits. That said, our favorite prebiotic packer to pair with chocolate is bananas. The two go together like peas and carrots, but they are sweet enough to enjoy as a healthy dessert.
Following includes two recipes that I created for maximum chocolate nutrition. Now there’s no reason to wonder why chocolate is healthy, just eat and enjoy. Can you believe nourishing food looks and tastes this good? Note that both recipes are dairy-free (naturally), gluten-free, soy-free, vegan, and top food allergy-friendly! Click the image or title for the recipe or for more info.
If your chocolate cravings run deep, then you may be a chocolate chip sneaker. Both Tony and I enjoy these portion-controlled bites and probably polish off a bag between us every week or two. Fortunately, Pascha Chocolate has just introduced three new chocolate chip products: 100%, 85% and 55% (shown front to back below)! All three are dairy-free, gluten-free, vegan, organic, fair trade, and top food allergy-friendly.