Limited consumption of dark chocolate has multiple health benefits including a reduced risk of heart diseases and lowering of high blood pressure
February casts a spell of love in the air and it’s always incomplete without indulging into some sweet and gooey chocolate. This month makes eating chocolate guilt free. Chocolate is always perceived as a ‘sweet’ threat causing harm to our body in diverse ways. But, what if we have a healthy option at our disposal to make both our heart and health happy? Dark chocolate is the perfect solution for that.
Despite having a ‘chocolate’ in its name, it doesn’t cause any trouble to the functionality of our body. Instead, it comes with a host of health benefits. Being a ‘superfood’ full of nutrients, dark chocolate also contains a significant percentage of plant chemicals acting as the antioxidants. Flavonoid, a phytonutrient, is the most common one amongst several others. The quantity of the antioxidants is commensurate with the percentage of dark chocolate. Standard commercial dark chocolates often range anywhere between fifty five to seventy per cent.
Limited daily consumption of dark chocolate in fact can impart multiple health benefits. The perks include:
A medicine that is not entirely bitter
Antioxidants add the medicinal properties to dark chocolate. It has the potential to battle a long list of ailments including high blood pressure. It curtails the risks of succumbing to various cardiovascular diseases. Flavonols found in dark chocolates are proven to be highly instrumental in lowering high blood pressure. The mode of action involves stimulation of the endothelium (the lining of the arteries) to produce nitric oxide. This leads to relaxation of the arteries and consequently to lowering of blood pressure.
Dark chocolate is an excellent source of instant energy. Caffeine and Theobromine are the two constituents with energy boosting properties. Their quantities are directly proportionate to the percentage of dark chocolate.
Happy Hormone Booster
Chocolates are meant to cause a surge in our happiness quotient. They are consumed with a very high hope of feeling happy. Phenylethylamine is the chemical component of dark chocolate responsible for releasing endorphin, widely known as the ‘happy hormone’.
Enhances Skin Glow
Dark chocolates can effectively enhance glow in our skin. It increases the collagen content of skin and also takes good care of blood circulation to delay ageing of skin. The bioactive compounds like Flavonol can shield the skin from the damages caused by prolonged exposure to sun and other harmful radiations.
Some healthy recipes
Banana chocolate cake
o 1 cup whole wheat atta
o ¼ teaspoon baking soda
o 1 teaspoon baking powder
o 2 tablespoons cocoa
o 2 medium sized ripe bananas
o ½ cup demerara sugar or brown sugar
o 1 egg
o 1 tablespoon flaxseed powder + 3 tablespoon water
o Preheat the oven at 180 degree Celsius. Grease a medium sized cake tin with oil.
o Mix the flaxseed powder with 3 tbsp water and keep aside for a few minutes till it becomes gelatinous.
o Sieve the flour with baking powder and baking soda. Peel and mash the bananas. You can also blend the bananas to get a smooth puree.
o Add all the ingredients to the sieved flour and mix well.
o Pour the cake mixture in the tin and bake at 180 degree celsius for 20 to 25 minutes.
o Once baked enjoy the cake with your evening tea or coffee.
o 500grams chenna or chenna made from 1 litre of cow's milk
o 1 tablespoon dark cocoa or regular cocoa powder
o 4 to 5 tablespoon unrefined organic cane sugar
o You will need fresh chenna to make the sandesh. Please refer to chenna recipe.
o Once the chenna is ready, then you just crumble it and blitz in a blender or grinder with cocoa powder and sugar, till the mixture becomes smooth.
o Add this mixture to a non stick pan. Stir continuously and cook on a low flame. After a few minutes, the mixture will come to have a smooth and molten consistency.
o The chenna should have some moistness and must not have a dense rubbery texture. Also no oil or fat should be released from the sandesh mixture. It will take about 5 to 6 minutes to get this texture on a low flame.
o Take all of the sandesh mixture on a small thali or plate. Let it become warm or cool down completely. Gently knead the mixture in small ball.
o You can also garnish chocolate sandesh with blanched & sliced almonds or pistachios, raisins or cashews
(The author is a lifestyle coach and diet counselor. She tweets @Bipasha1sugati)