The so-called superfoods are vitally important in your diet if you wish to achieve success and live longer.

 

Experts believe that certain superfoods can help you recover quicker, boost your immune system, ward off the effects of ageing and reduce the risk of age-related diseases like heart disease, arthritis, osteoporosis and dementia. The next few blogs are going to be dedicated to the superfoods I eat and would recommend to you.

Dark Chocolate

Dark chocolate has many health benefits

Prepared from Theobroma cacao seeds, it contains a natural substance that helps to open up your blood vessels and circulation. This means better delivery of oxygen to the working parts of your body like muscles and joints, as well as cardiovascular system and brain. It can also improve mental focus and moods and offset exercise-induced cell damage, which means faster recovery after strenuous exercise. Eat a few squares of the high percentage (>70% cacao) dark chocolate 30-45 minutes before exercise.

The earliest evidence of use traces to the Olmecs (Mexico), with evidence of chocolate beverages dating to 1900 BC. The majority of Mesoamerican people made chocolate beverages, including the Maya and Aztecs.

Most dark chocolates that have over 70% cacao (i.e. cocoa) on the market today contain a series of chemicals that interact with cell and tissue components that help protect against the development and effects of certain diseases and illnesses. [1] It is said to lower blood pressure and cholesterol, and possibly lower the risk of diabetes.

Dark chocolate contains antioxidants, such as polyphenols, and is relatively low in sugar. It has a reputation as a healthier alternative to other types of chocolate, such as milk chocolate.

Research has also shown that higher levels of chocolate consumption were associated with a 37% reduction in cardiovascular disease (relative risk 0.63 (95% confidence interval 0.44 to 0.90)) [2] and a 29% reduction in stroke compared with the lowest levels. Chocolate is also a rich source of flavonoids, and research has shown that a diet high in flavonoid-rich foods (Wine, tea & chocolate) is associated with better performance in several cognitive abilities in a dose-dependent manner. [3] If you need more justification to enjoy dark chocolate, consider this: A third of the fat in cocoa butter is stearic acid, a saturated fat that, unlike other saturated fats, appears to have a neutral effect on blood cholesterol. [4]

Chocolate is an excellent source of minerals including potassium, phosphorus, copper, iron, zinc, and magnesium. Another meta-analysis found that cocoa lowered insulin resistance, reduced blood pressure, increased blood vessel elasticity. [5] In one study, patients consuming 100 grams of flavanol-rich dark chocolate for 15 days showed decreased insulin resistance. [6]

So, feel free to enjoy a piece of dark chocolate after a meal. Just keep a few facts in mind before you indulge. First, buy chocolate that is at least 70% cacao. Generally speaking, the higher the percentage, the more flavonoids, though the exact amount varies from batch to batch and depends on the extent of processing, and finally, to keep weight in check, limit portions to 1 ounce of dark chocolate daily, or about 150 calories.

My recipe suggestions:

Fun & healthy

Grated dark chocolate
Take a grater and slide the chocolate from top to bottom to get thin strings of chocolate. Use this to garnish and decorate desserts. Great sprinkled on natural Greek yoghurt with blueberries.

Melted dark chocolate
Method 1: Take a saucepan of hot water ( 3-4cm deep water) and place a heat-resistant bowel into it. Put chunks of dark chocolate in the bowl to melt. Keep stirring continuously with the help of a spatula and heat for a few minutes until it melts.
• Method 2: Put the chunks of chocolate in a bowl and microwave on high for 20 to 30 seconds. Remove and mix well. If it is still not molten, microwave on high for a few more seconds.
• Use this in cakes, cookies, mousses, etc. as a garnish and decoration.

Hot chocolate drink is good for you.

Hot dark chocolate drink
To help get ready sleep, hot chocolate is a universal drink adopted by many people around the world as a regular drink. While many think that hot chocolate can be easily prepared by stirring in a spoon of cocoa into a glass of hot milk, real hot chocolate requires a bit of brewing and is best made with grated dark chocolate rather than cocoa powder. Here is a perfect recipe for authentic hot chocolate, to be enjoyed at any time during the day with good music, books or company!

Ingredients: ¼ cup of grated dark chocolate, 1 cup of milk, 1tbsp of sugar.
Method:

  • Combine all the ingredients along with ½ cup of water in a non-stick pan and cook on medium heat for 1 to 2 minutes until the chocolate melts and no lumps remain while stirring continuously.
    Serve immediately while hot.
  1. Galleano, Monica (1 December 2009). “Cocoa, chocolate and cardiovascular disease”. J Cardiovasc Pharmacol. 54(6):483-490.
  2. Buitrago-Lopez, A.; Sanderson, J.; Johnson, L.; Warnakula, S.; Wood, A.; Di Angelantonio, E.; Franco, O. H. (2011). “Chocolate consumption and cardiometabolic disorders: Systematic review and meta-analysis”. BMJ. 343: d4488.
  3. Nurk, Eha; Refsum, H.; Drevon, C. A.; Tell, G. S.; Nygaard, H. A.; Engedal, K.; Smith, A. D.; Vollset, SE; Refsum, H (2009). “Intake of Flavonoid-Rich Wine, Tea, and Chocolate by Elderly Men and Women Is Associated with Better Cognitive Test Performance”. Journal of Nutrition. 139 (1): 120-127.
  4. Francene M Steinberg PhD, Monica M Bearden, carl L Keen PhD, (Feb 2003). “Cocoa and chocolate flavonoids: Implications for cardiovascular health”. Journal of American Dietetic Association. Vol 103 (2): 215-233.
  5. Hooper L, Kay C, Abdelhamid A, Kroon PA, Chn JS, Rimm EB, Cassidy A (2012). “Effects of chocolate, cocoa, and flavan-3-ols on cardiovascular health: a systemic review and meta-analysis of randomized trials”. Am J Clin Nut. 95 (3): 740-751.
  6. Grassi D1, Desideri G, Necozione S, Lippi C, Casale R, Properzi G, Blumberg JB, Ferri C, (2008). “Blood pressure is reduced, and insulin sensitivity increased in glucose-intolerant, hypertensive subjects after 15 days of consuming high-polyphenol dark chocolate”. J Nutri. 138 (9): 1671-1676.

 

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