Chocolate - Is it good or bad for you?
20th Jul 2019
When one moment it’s the newest health craze and the next it's terrible for your health, what are we to believe when it comes to chocolate? Could it really be good for curing more than a broken heart?
Cacao is the source in which cocoa is extracted from and is rich in antioxidants, protecting the body from ageing and disease. Cacao also gives cocoa its distinct bitter taste which is when milk, butter and sugar are all added to soften the bitterness and create the milk chocolate we all know and love. Although the melt-in-the-mouth, creamy texture is a delight for the taste buds, processing cacao in this way is not so good for your health, adding on calories and diluting the health-enhancing benefits.
Quality dark chocolate with a high cocoa content (70–85%) has been proven to help improve your memory function and boost brain power as it contains flavones which can improve blood flow, enhancing memory function. Just two grams, the equivalent of a few squares, can reduce your blood pressure which in turn will cut down the risk of strokes or heart attacks. This is due to the flexibility of veins and arteries being increased from plant chemicals called flavonoids which kill off the unstable cells that antioxidants fight. It is also loaded with minerals, being particularly rich in fibre and iron.
Milk chocolate contains very little of the original cocoa bean and is packed with milk and sugar leaving little nutritional benefit. Although dark chocolate still contains sugar, the quantity is normally much smaller and the darker your chocolate is, the less sugar there is.
Tip: swap your usual bar of milk chocolate for a couple of squares of cocoa-rich organic dark chocolate and benefit the mind and body with this mindful exercise.
Mindful Chocolate Eating
Relax into a comfortable position on the sofa, sit on a chair or lay down on the bed.
Notice the sounds and smells in the room and gradually bring your attention to the breath.
Take a few deep breaths and be aware of how it feels to be present in this moment.
Next, if your eyes are closed, open them and break a piece of chocolate off from the bar. Notice the sound it makes, the texture and colour, the temperature of the chocolate between your fingers - is it warm or cold?
Notice how the chocolate makes you feel. Are you salivating?
Bring the chocolate to your nose and notice the smell. Appreciate the aroma. You may begin to salivate more or feel a greater urge to just eat the chocolate. Notice these sensations and appreciate this moment.
Bring the chocolate to your mouth and take a bite. Notice the texture and flavour. How does that first bite feel?
Now place the rest of the square of chocolate in your mouth and let it melt. How does the texture feel on your tongue? Notice the flavour with the second taste. Is it different from the first taste? Is it sweet of bitter?
After you have eaten the chocolate, bring your attention back to the breath. Notice how you feel in this moment. Compare it to how you felt at the beginning of the meditation.
Bring your attention back to the room. Notice the sounds of the room, the weight of your body in the chair, the temperature of the room. When you are ready, slowly open your eyes.
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