Looking forward to a Christmas chocolate selection pack this year? Maybe the box of chocolates in brightly coloured wrappers is top of your festive food-shopping list? Well you won’t be alone as two fifths of Britons admit to eating chocolate at three meals a day!
Statistics from a British Heart Foundation campaign have revealed just how obsessed we are with chocolate with 36% of the 2,000 adults surveyed admitting to eating chocolate at every meal of the day. Not surprisingly, the British love affair with the sugary foods has mirrored the rise in the number of people being diagnosed as obese, with one in ten children now classed as overweight or obese.
But what if there’s a chocolate treat that we can enjoy and might even impart some health benefits if eaten in moderation?
Dark chocolate has been shown to be a truly healthy form of chocolate, as long as you pick the low in refined sugar products and stick to 1-2 squares per serving (approx. 10-20g). Dark chocolate is high in flavonoids and polyphenol antioxidants, containing even greater levels than those found in red wine or tea.
The higher the cacao content, the higher the antioxidant levels and the greater the health benefits – dark chocolate between 70-90% cacao content is the best. You can even use a tablespoon of raw cacao powder or cocoa butter in drinks and smoothies to boost the levels of many essential health-promoting nutrients.
Here are just some health benefits of dark chocolate:
Dark chocolate contains a decent amount of soluble fibre and is loaded with minerals.
20g of dark chocolate (around 2 squares) with 70–85% cocoa contains around:
13% RDI for iron
12% RDI for magnesium
17.8% RDI for copper
20% RDI for manganese
It also has plenty of calcium, potassium, phosphorus, zinc and selenium. Now that’s a great deal more nutritious than most processed chocolates on the market!
Good for Heart Health
Flavanols, a type of flavonoid, help to lower blood pressure and improve blood flow to the heart and brain, as well as reduce platelet stickiness and clotting ability, which reduces the risk of blood clots and stroke. A 2015 study monitoring the health of over 20,000 people over 11 years concluded “there was cumulative evidence to suggest that higher dark chocolate intake is associated with lower risk of future cardiovascular events”.
Cocoa butter contains heart-healthy monounsaturated fats like oleic acid (also found in olive oil). A 2008 study of 28 healthy volunteers found that just one week of eating dark chocolate improved blood lipid profile, including balancing cholesterol levels.
Good for Brain Health
Intake of flavonoid-rich foods, including dark chocolate and tea, is associated with improved cognitive performance. 
Are you now inspired to eat a little dark chocolate instead of the fat and sugar laden processed milk chocolate sweets? It’s easy when you know how! How about enjoying this simple, tasty and healthy chocolate truffle this Christmas that does not contain processed refined sugar? I’ve also added in some extra goodness in the form of Superlec Plus – a lecithin product with added plant sterols that contribute to the maintenance of blood cholesterol levels. You could also substitute this for Sunflower Lecithin Powder but these are granules so not as easy to achieve a smooth truffle texture. Lecithin powder use is optional, but it also lends a really lovely creamy texture to the truffle. And what’s more, these treats are wheat and dairy free! Remember though that as with every sweet treat moderation is the key…
Dark Chocolate Chilli Truffles
- Makes 10 truffles depending on size
- 1/2 cup smooth almond butter
- 1/4 cup plus 1 tbsp raw cacao powder or unsweetened cocoa powder (or as needed)
- 2 tsp Superlec Plus or Sunflower Lecithin Power (lecithin powder gives a lovely creamy texture with added benefits of supporting healthy liver function and cholesterol levels)
- 3 tbsp maple syrup
- 1/4 tsp chilli powder (as mild or as hot as you like – my favourite is a dash of cayenne pepper)
- Pinch Himalayan Pink salt
- 1 1/2 cups vegan dark chocolate with 1tsp Superlec Plus or Sunflower Lecithin Power (this step is optional)
- In a bowl, mix together the almond butter, cacao powder, maple or inulin syrup, chilli powder and pink salt until smooth and well combined. You want it to be the consistency of dough, if it is still too soft (since almond butter may vary in how liquid it is), add a little more cacao powder.
- Roll into 1 1/2 inch balls and then roll in some left over cacao powder.
- Place on a parchment lined tray and freeze for 1 hour before enjoying.
- You can also make a hard chocolate shell by dipping the chilled truffles in melted vegan dark chocolate (letting the excess drain off, I like to set mine on a fork to dip to make it easier), place back onto the tray until they are all done and freeze again until the chocolate is hard. This usually takes 5-10 minutes. Enjoy!
You’ll also find some great chocolate treat recipes in the book I reviewed “CBD Oil: Everyday Secrets” where you not only get the benefits of raw chocolate but also the many amazing health benefits of raw CBD oil as well!
Wishing you all a healthy, happy and relaxing Holiday Season.
- Kwok CS, et al. Habitual chocolate consumption and risk of cardiovascular disease among healthy men and women. Heart 2015;101:1279-1287.
- Hamed MS Dark chocolate effect on platelet activity, C-reactive protein and lipid profile: a pilot study. South Med J. 2008 Dec;101(12):1203-8. doi: 10.1097/SMJ.0b013e31818859eb
- Valentina Socci, Daniela Tempesta, Giovambattista Desideri, Luigi De Gennaro, Michele Ferrara. Enhancing Human Cognition with Cocoa Flavonoids. Frontiers in Nutrition, 2017; 4 DOI: 10.3389/fnut.2017.00019