Why you should eat chocolate (plus my favourite chocolate cake recipes)
My friends, I copped some serious flak from my last post on giving up bacon. Talk about shooting the messenger! In response to that, and also in acknowledgement of the impending arrival of the Easter Bunny, I give you herewith an honest, evidence-based post on why you should eat chocolate. And no, I am not sponsored by Lindt, though by golly that is an AWESOME idea! The Healthy Doctor selling chocolate!
Before I go on I must insert a disclaimer. The following information is general medical advice only (to eat chocolate). Some of the research studies and reviews quoted have been funded by large food corporations (big vested interest there obviously!) Chocolate has calories, and calorie excess turns into excess fat. Chocolate is usually accompanied by lots of sugar. Chocolate can also cause a disorder well-known to Emergency Departments, aka “Easter Tummy” (abdominal pain from consuming too many Easter eggs). Eating chocolate can also induce feelings of guilt, especially in females who are practising dietary restriction (hmm sound familiar?!) And advice from my dentist is that chocolate is really, really bad for your teeth. So please consult your physician before planning to eat copious amounts of chocolate (which I do not recommend!) and brush your teeth after chocolate! Now we’ve got the business part out of the way, let’s examine the ways in which chocolate improves your health.
Chocolate is good for your heart.
Breaking news: Chocolate reduces heart disease risk by a whopping 50%. Chocolate appears to do wonders for the human heart. It reduces unhealthy cholesterol levels, makes blood thinner and less sticky, reduces blood pressure, reduces oxidative stress and inflammation. I really feel I do not need to go on further, but it gets better. Keep reading.
Chocolate may prevent cancer.
Researchers think this may never really be proven, and there are two studies that show an association between cocoa intake and cancer, but other studies suggest that chocolate probably has an anti-cancer effect. However, proving this would involve large trials over many years where some people get to eat chocolate every day…. Something tells me they wouldn’t have too much trouble recruiting for this kind of study!!!
Some studies suggest chocolate may improve mood and cognitive function.
This is not a consistent effect, although testing mood and cognitive function in a laboratory is difficult. But the active compounds in chocolate (including caffeine) are thought to boost mood and ability to think. Interestingly, the effects of chocolate include having effects on receptors in the brain that are similar to the ones activated by psychoactive drugs like marijuana.
Cocoa comes from a bean and contains lots of vitamins and minerals.
I don’t think I need to say much more.
And now… My favourite chocolate cake recipes
I love baking. I’ve been baking chocolate cakes for more than twenty years. Here are some of my favourites. Some of them healthier than others. All of them absolutely divine. I believe in enjoying food, real food. I especially love it when a food can be both healthy and yumbelicious. So this Easter, whip up a chocolate cake or two, and enjoy in moderation :)
I am a huge fan of Nigella. And Nutella. Now, let’s be honest, Nutella is not good for you. And it contains palm oil, which is not orang-utan friendly. (You can find hazelnut spread without palm oil in Aldi. I haven’t tried it yet but will do when we run out!)
This is the cake to end all cakes. If today was my last day on Earth, this cake would probably make it onto the dessert list. Absolutely, totally, unbelievably, indulgently, divine.
Good old Neil Perry has a way with the classics. Have you tried his heart-stopping macaroni cheese? This chocolate cake basically butter, eggs and sugar. Oh, and a bit of Frangelico. It’s dense, rich and sensuous. He serves it with whipped cream. Which it really doesn’t need. But please yourself :)
This recipe is from the Thermomix Australia community website. It is one of the top recipes of all time. You can easily convert it if you don’t have a Thermie – you simply have to puree or blend the beans, and beat the butter and sugar and eggs as per usual. I halved the amount of sugar and it tasted absolutely delicious. I also substituted coconut oil for the butter. The result is amazing, and it is a high protein, low GI cake to boot, with heaps of benefits from the legumes used instead of flour. Must be tried to be believed – and do smother it in a chocolate ganache (made with melted dark chocolate and cream/coconut cream).
I hope everyone has a safe and Happy Easter!