I desperately wanted to be a good nutritionist, but one thing I was never prepared to give up was my chocolate fix. It wasn't always the healthy kind back then. I had to adapt my taste buds to the darker variety, but after a bit of training, I am now pretty hard core at 85% cocoa (and loving it)!
So mainly for personal reasons, I'm always on the look out for research that confirms the health benefits.
Chocolate Cough Medicine?
A recent headline in Daily Mail caught my eye – it said ‘Never mind honey and lemon, the best cure for a cough is chocolate!'
Based on some research done at Hull University, patients in the trial that took a chocolate based medicine had improved symptoms over those taking a standard linctus based remedy.
Researchers think it’s due to the fact that chocolate is more sticky and viscous than standard cough medicines, so it forms a coating protecting nerve endings that trigger the urge to cough.
Not only that, a previous study also found that it helped to suppress coughs, that time thought to be due to the compound theobromine found in the cocoa bean.
Now I don’t want you reaching for the M&M’s in a bid to soothe your cough! No good causing inflammation that might be there with all that sugar.
A bit of dark chocolate will do fine. The darker the chocolate the more antioxidants, and the less sugar – so better for you all round.
What are the other health benefits of chocolate?
The benefits don’t stop there. It's great for your;
- HEART – several studies have shown that the flavanols in chocolate can lower blood pressure, dilate blood vessels, and regulate your cholesterol
- MOOD – well this one's obvious! But it can actually reduce anxiety and increase endorphins, our feel good hormones.
- BRAIN – chocolate has been shown to stimulate the formation of new brain cells – helping with memory, brain fog and concentration.
- SKIN – the antioxidants in the cocoa bean can help protect against ageing and improve skin health.
- STRESS – is there a reason we crave chocolate when we’re stressed? That could be because it has been shown to reduce stress hormones. It could also be a craving for magnesium, our relaxation mineral. An ounce of dark choc (70-80% cocoa) contains 64mg of magnesium.
- SEX DRIVE – chocolate can even help in the bedroom! The blood vessel dilation properties can help to boost libido and fertility.
- WEIGHT LOSS – really?? One study found an association between higher dark chocolate consumption and lower central fatness in adolescents. This could be due to its effects on insulin regulation.
Healthy Hot Chocolate
My favourite chocolate recipe of the moment is my own hot chocolate mix;
- 1 tablespoon of raw cacao powder
- 1 teaspoon maca powder
- Half a mug of your milk of choice (I like Mylk by Rebel Kitchen) – frothed and heated
Mix the powders with a little boiling water first, to make a paste. Then pour in the frothed milk, and top up with hot water. Give it a good stir and enjoy!
Do let me know your favourite dark chocolate recipes in the Comments or join our free Facebook group, The Hormone Connection and let us know in there what you're up to!