As a food with such a bad reputation for being unhealthful just a couple of decades ago, new studies keep revealing new health benefits of eating chocolate. Along with past studies that linked eating chocolate to improved mood, heart health, and reduced risk of stroke, a new study shows reveals that it may help improve your brain function.
The study analyzed almost 1000 people over a 30-year period and found that those who ate chocolate at least once-a-week were in better cognitive health than those who didn’t consume chocolate or ate it only on rare occasions.
Of course, the health benefits of chocolate can be counteracted when you eat processed chocolate bars that are filled with high-fructose corn syrup, preservatives, and emulsifiers. However, here are two sources of chocolate so healthy that you can even include them in your diet every day.
1. Raw Cacao Nibs
Raw cacao nibs are readily available at many health-food shops, and they offer an experience as close to eating a real, unprocessed cocoa bean as possible. These nibs are simply cocoa beans cut into small pieces and packaged. The easiest way to include them in your daily diet is to simply munch on them, just as you would any other snack.
Other ideas include adding the nibs to trail mix, adding them to cookie recipes instead of processed chocolate chips, or adding a few to your daily smoothie to give it a healthy flavor kick.
Or, you can mix equal amounts of cacao nibs and healthy nut butter, then roll the mixture into small balls, and roll again in small dish of nibs. Healthy chocolate-nut butter candy! Yum!
2. Brewing Chocolate
Brewing chocolate is perfect when you want a healthy chocolate beverage with almost zero calories. It is sold in bags, similar to how coffee is sold, but inside the bag you will find ground cocoa beans instead of coffee. While you can brew the chocolate in a drip coffee maker when in a hurry, it is better to heat a cup of hot water on the stove, add a few tablespoons of brewing chocolate (play around to find your perfect strength), allow the mixture to steep for 10 minutes, then strain it. This longer steeping time unleashes more of the antioxidants and flavor of the ground cocoa beans than a drip coffee brewer can.
You can then drink the final beverage “black,” or with a little organic milk of your choice added along with a little stevia. If you are a coffee drinker, you can mix the brewed chocolate beverage into your daily cup of coffee to make it even healthier.
Once you brew your ground beans, don’t throw them out! Place them in an air-tight container in the refrigerator, and you can then add them to your next smoothie, bowl of rice pudding, or even your oatmeal.
Chocolate is healthy, but only when you choose the right type of chocolate to add to your daily diet. Try one or both of these healthy sources of chocolate to reap the health benefits without the added fat, preservatives, and emulsifiers in processed chocolate bars.