Chocolate Blueberry Delight

Cocoa Bluberry Smoothie.jpg

I love chocolate!  I mean, who doesn't?  However, if you look at the ingredients of most chocolates, sugar is almost always the first ingredient.  You will also see ingredients like partially hydrogenated palm oil (i.e. trans fat), whey (contains lactose), soy lecithin, refined palm kernel oil (processed fat), artificial flavoring, corn syrup (refined) and sometimes much more.

However, there is also a lot to say for the beneficial side of chocolate.  Unfortunately, many people mistakenly eat the highly-processed, nutrient-poor chocolate instead of the power-packed chocolate discussed below.

So, instead of receiving the natural mood-enhancing and nutritional benefits of real chocolate, they end up with a sugar -laden counterfeit that probably does more bad than good.

So what benefits does chocolate have to offer us?

Health Benefits

Magnesium:  Raw cacao and dark chocolate (60-90%) is a rich source of magnesium.  It balances brain chemistry, builds strong bones, supports a healthy heart, and combats depression, which partially explains why chocolate is considered a mood enhancer.  Magnesium is also fairly deficient in American diets, which is likely due to poor intake in fruits and vegetables.

Antioxidants:  Antioxidants pack a powerful punch by dismantling the free radicals that can cause extensive cellular damage.  Cacao contains numerous flavonoids (an antioxidant subclass), which are suggested to play a beneficial role in numerous health issues, notably cardiovascular disease.

Tryptophan:  Tryptophan is an amino acid that enhances relaxation and promotes better sleep and is also a precursor to serotonin, a known mood-enhancing neurotransmitter.  Studies have shown chocolate samples to contain significant amounts of serotonin and l-tryptophan, depending on the cocoa content (70-85%).  It is no secret that chocolate has strong sensory characteristics.

Other Nutrients:  Iron, chromium, theobromine, manganese, zinc, copper, vitamin C, Omega-6 fatty acids, phosphorus, calcium, and selenium, though this may depend on the geographical origin of the cacao.

Chocolate consumption also has beneficial effects on insulin resistance, type 2 diabetes, and aspects of cardiovascular health including blood pressure, cholesterol, and arterial stiffness. 

I think you're beginning to see the picture.  

Which Type of Chocolate Should You Purchase?

There are vast nutritional and taste differences between your everyday processed chocolate (to include cocoa and chocolate) and raw cacao.  Basically, the more processed the chocolate, the less nutritional value it has.

So which should you use?  Well, if you want the biggest bang for your nutritional buck, go for the raw cacao nibs or the raw cacao powder.

If you decide to give the nibs a try, you can just throw them into your blender along with the other ingredients if you have a HIGH-SPEED BLENDER.  If you don't, grind them in a coffee grinder first, then add them to the blender (or whatever recipe you're making).

If you decide to go for the raw cacao, then look for a natural cocoa powder that has not been treated with alkaline as the Dutch processed cocoa has been.  You can easily find these at health food stores such as Sprouts, Natural Grocers, and Whole Foods or Amazon and Azure Standard.

So go enjoy yourself some chocolate, my friend.  Just make sure you reap the healthy benefits while you do!

Chocolate Blueberry Delight

Inspired by Joel Fuhrman's Eat To Live

Serves 2

5 ounces baby spinach

2 cups frozen blueberries

1/2 cup unsweetened soy, hemp, almond milk, etc.

1 banana 

2-4 dates pitted

2 tablespoons natural cocoa powder

1 tablespoon ground flaxseeds