Surely, there is only one superfood of choice for St Valentine’s Day?
It’s gluten free, dairy free, low GI and contains some serious feelgood factors – who could possibly resist? I don’t mean chocolate, the brightly packaged confectionary that’s full of sugar, dairy and harmful fats. Daily consumption of this kind of adulterated “treat” is likely to affect your weight, energy and mood…and not in a good way!
Known as ‘Food of the Gods’, cacao beans were revered by Mayan Indians so highly 2,000 years ago, they were used as a form of currency. Unlike the ‘common’ heat-treated, over-processed and sugar-laden versions, raw chocolate has impressive medicinal properties and was used for centuries in Central and South America in healing rituals.
Dried at low temperatures, raw cacao is a highly nutritious, slightly bitter powder that can be formed into bars, nibs, smoothies and delicious deserts, or used as a substitute for coffee. Renowned as an effective aphrodisiac, this superfood is one of the richest sources of anti-aging antioxidants – far higher than ordinary dark chocolate – and is rich in minerals such as magnesium, chromium and manganese which are often lacking in our modern diet. Cacao flavonols have been shown to promote a healthy cardiovascular system by improving elasticity in blood vessels and reducing the risk of blood clots.
Best of all, you can happily indulge without guilt or after-effects as this chocolate does not induce a sugar crash leading to cravings, but appears to suppress appetite. In addition, it is a rare source of PEA, a compound which increases serotonin levels in the brain, improving mood. Consuming authentic raw organic chocolate is an experience to be savoured and makes a wonderful gift for your beloved. However tempting, resolve not to eat it all yourself. You can buy it in many health food shops or order online.
© 2011 Martina Watts MSc Nut Med, First Published Brighton Argus February 2009