Last time I shared with you my best hot chocolate recipe. Today we take a closer look at the healthy substances in raw chocolate.
While there are many reported health benefits coming from consuming the right kinds of cocoa and dark chocolate, please do not take this as a license to over-indulge! Any good thing can produce negative effects if taken to extremes. So the ancient adage, moderation in all things, applies to consumption of all kinds of chocolate, including even these types of “healthy chocolate”.
Copper in Chocolate
Cocoa contains fairly high levels of the mineral copper. Copper is used by our body to manufacture numerous enzymes, many of which work as antioxidants, but too much copper can inhibit zinc absorption and cause nausea and muscle pain. As with red wine, which can be healthy in moderate use, consume cocoa and dark chocolate in moderation as a healthy treat, but do not think of it as a health food if you abuse it.
Why Are Raw Cocoa And Organic Chocolate Healthy?
Many of the following natural chemical compounds in raw cocoa and in organic dark chocolate have been explored in scientific literature as being pharmacologically significant to health. The most important are:
- Anandamide – a neurotransmitter known as the bliss chemical
- Arginine – nature’s own aphrodisiac
- Dopamine – a helpful neurotransmitter
- Epicatechins – a family of antioxidants
- Magnesium – good for healthy heart function and more
- Phenylethylamine (PEA) – enhances the brain’s ability to focus and stay alert
- Polyphenols – another family of powerful antioxidants
- Serotonin – an anti-stress neurotransmitter
- Tryptophan – an anti-depressant amino acid
Magnesium – the Mineral Your Heart Needs
Our heart muscle requires Magnesium and Potassium to function optimally. Magnesium is concentrated eighteen times more in the heart muscle than in the bloodstream. Magnesium helps regulate blood pressure and the heartbeat. It also reduces blood coagulation and can help lower blood pressure.
Magnesium also balances brain chemistry, and helps build strong bones. Raw cocoa powder and organic dark chocolate are the best food sources of this heart-supporting mineral.
Serotonin, dopamine, phenylethylamine and anandamide
These are all well-studied neurotransmitters which help alleviate depression and are associated with feelings of well-being. Cocoa also contains monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAO Inhibitors) which help improve our mood because they allow serotonin and dopamine to remain in the bloodstream longer before being broken down. Cocoa also contains anandamide which stimulates blissful feelings. It contains B vitamins, which are associated with brain health.