Why You Should Eat Chocolate this Halloween!

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One Halloween, BC (before cancer) but AD (after dairy allergy diagnosis) I decided to throw caution to the dairy allergy wind and eat one of my daughter’s bite-sized Halloween Snickers candies that she had collected trick or treating. I used to like Snickers so I popped it in my mouth, bit down and immediately felt my cheeks pucker in from the excessively sweet sensation. My tastebuds nearly jumped off my tongue. I hadn’t eaten a candy bar (Halloween bite sized or otherwise) since we stopped eating dairy a few years earlier because I couldn’t eat the milk in the milk chocolate anymore. Since when did Snickers become so sweet? I wondered. Since forever. What had happened was my tastebuds were no longer accustomed to that level of sweetness.

Why not eat sugar?

As I wrote in my previous blog post How Sugar is Slowly Killing You, eating those little bite sized versions of the major candy brands this Halloween is not a good idea. Sugar is highly inflammatory, packs on the pounds and is addictive. Since going off sugar, my tastebuds had readjusted to enjoy lower levels of sweetness like from a strawberry or an orange. So instead of stealing the sugary candy from your kid’s trick or treat bag like Snickers, Mounds, or KitKat bars, what I want you to eat instead is dark chocolate. Because that, my friend, is actually good for you! Here’s why.

Why dark chocolate?

Dark Chocolate has no dairy which is nice for those of us with dairy alleries/intolerances, and it also has much less sugar, which is nice for everyone. In fact, the raw cacao that chocolate is made from is actually a superfood that can improve your memory, make you feel happier, reduce heart disease, shed fat, boost immunity and create loads of energy! How awesome does that sound?

How dark is dark?

Look on the wrapper and see if the company has listed the cacao content. The cacao percentage is the indicator of how dark the chocolate is. The more cacao the better, since that is what is providing the health benefits. It will also be more bitter with less sugar. Generally 60% cacao is considered “semi-sweet”, 65% is considered “bittersweet” and 70% and above is considered “dark”. Choose as dark as you can stand. Once you get accustomed to the lack of sweetness, you will notice other flavors in the dark chocolate like subtle fruity or floral notes.

What is the difference between cocoa and cacao?

Even though cocoa and cacao look similar in their powder forms, there is actually a big difference nutritionally. Raw cacao powder is made by cold-pressing unroasted cocoa beans. The process is done without the heat of the roasting process so it keeps the living enzymes in the cocoa while removing the fat (the cacao butter). Cocoa powder is raw cacao that’s been roasted at high temperatures. The important difference is that raw cacao contains nearly four times the antioxidant content of regular processed cocoa!

I often use raw cacao when I need a chocolate fix, blending my Chunky Monkey Chocolate Smoothie or whipping up some yummy chocolate coconut protein ball snacks (one of the recipes over in my Membership Club). Look for raw cacao powder at health food stores, supplement stores, community co-ops, Whole Foods, or online.

Another delicious product I have to tell you about it Neal’s Yard Remedies Superfood Organic Cocoa Complex Powder. It is full of other superfoods like blueberry, maca root, ashwaganda root, and other adaptogenic herbs that help your mind and body adapt to everyday stress. And it tastes delicious. I add it to smoothies and also make a hot cocoa drink in the evenings. So yum.

As usual, there can be too much of a good thing. Chocolate is high in calories so you don’t want to go overboard and have negatives outweigh the positives. For good measure, Dr. Weil recommends an ounce or two a few times a week. So treat yourself with dark chocolate this Halloween and feel good knowing you’re doing your body a favor with increased health benefits and reduced sugar. And have a very happy Halloween!

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