Why I’m justifying dessert for brekkie. By Nutritionist and GoodnessMe Box Health Editor Melissa Fine.
1) You’ll Skip the ‘Snooze’ Button
Because chocolate for breakfast! I’m talking about the pure stuff though, not the refined sugar and vegetable oil laden confectionary-chocolate. Stir a teaspoon of 100% cacao powder through your porridge or yoghurt, or add it to a smoothie…Cacao is naturally bittersweet so sweeten whatever you’re having with a mashed banana or Medjool date; A pinch of coconut sugar or a drop of stevia (a sugar free, plant-derived sweetener) also does the trick.
2) To Put Some Pep in Your Step
And not just because it tastes so good, but because cacao is a natural source of the mood-boosting chemical serotonin; It also contains ‘tryptophan’, a serotonin precursor. Plus, cacao gives you a bit of caffeine, but in a smaller dose than coffee (A mug of hot cocoa has around 1-2 thirds less caffeine than an espresso) – Great if you want a more gentle pre-work/workout caffeine hit.
Swap your highly processed, low fat (i.e. refined sugar-loaded) hot choc this winter with my homemade, healthy version: Just combine 1 heaped tsp pure cacao powder with 1 tsp coconut sugar (or a couple drops stevia for a sugar free option) in a mug, and top with ½ Cup boiling water and ¼ Cup milk of choice (full cream milk, soy or coconut milk all work well and wont curdle).
3) It’s High in Antioxidants
Particularly from its flavonoid (plant compound) content. Antioxidants can help neutralise free radicals, extremely reactive toxins produced naturally by the body as a by-product of metabolism, and that we’re exposed to in the environment (from things like pollution, pesticides and cigarette smoke). Cacao typically has a significantly higher antioxidant content than heat-processed cocoa, another reason to eat your chocolate raw.
4) It May Help Lower Blood Pressure – a risk factor for cardiovascular disease
The blood-pressure lowering mechanism of chocolate is attributed to flavonols, plant compounds inherent to cacao. Although we’re waiting on long-term research, this finding is from a highly regarded research review* of 20 high quality studies with a large sample size of 856 mostly healthy participants.
5) It Satisfies a Sweet Tooth – the Healthy Way
Looking for a healthier alternative to your favourite commercial chocolate spread? I’m loving Food to Nourish Chocolate Hazelnut Spread; 100% organic, its main ingredient is roasted hazelnut (instead of white sugar, like in the commercial variety). I also like that it’s lightly sweetened with unrefined maple syrup, and thickened naturally with coconut oil instead of hydrogenated (hardened) vegetable oils, which can turn into undesirable trans-fats...Delicious on brown rice toast topped with strawberry slices. I l also love a dollop on my banana porridge – for some healthy fats and protein ;)
Food to Nourish CHOCOLATE HAZELNUT SPREAD is chocolate hazelnut spread that is the real deal! This delicious and healthy spread contains only 4 organic ingredients, roasted hazelnuts, raw cacao powder, coconut oil and organic maple syrup. Head to www.foodtonourish.com.au/ to try it for yourself
*Source: Ried K, Sullivan TR, Fakler P, Frank OR, Stocks NP. Effect of cocoa on blood pressure. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2012, Issue 8. Art. No.: CD008893. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD008893.pub2.