It used to be one of my favorite things to eat. I’d especially indulge around shark week… If you know, you know. This delicious food of the gods would improve my mood and I truly enjoyed the taste. I am sure I am not alone in this. Many of us consume it on the regular, but it was once considered rare in certain parts of the world and treated as such with strict limitation on who could enjoy the delectable treat. Eventually, I chose to reduce my intake for a variety of reasons, but the more I review the benefits, I think of venturing back into the world of chocolate. However, if I choose to do so, it would be as fair-trade dark chocolate. Why? Well, allow me a quick moment to explain. If you find you are intrigued, I certainly invite you to research for yourself.
Most chocolate is harvested by not only slave labor, but child slave labor. These children are generally around 12, but some are as young as five. FIVE! I am not a big fan of blood on my hands. Consider the source, always.
Typically, we eat milk chocolate, which is scrumptious, but lacks most of the health benefits that dark chocolate offers. Milk chocolate is purely based on taste. And, the more sugar that is added, the further the reduction of medicinal value. White chocolate is not actually chocolate and does nothing to improve your health. It’s smooth and creamy, but absolutely no redeeming qualities.
But, let’s delve into the reason to obtain that fairly traded dark chocolate for yourselves. In addition to boosting your mood, it also has some pretty impressive medicinal effects.
So, how is chocolate medicinal? Well, let’s count the ways:
· Lowers blood pressure
· Full of antioxidants
· Improved rest
· Fantastic food source of magnesium
And, according to Healthline, it can also help protect your skin and increase the hydration in your largest organ (skin). This is always important, but perhaps even moreso as our world warms due to climate change.
But, you already know that my primary focus is improved mood in my blogs and business. However, I would be remiss not to list the aforementioned topics. Please feel free to research the other topics if you believe they will benefit your self-care or physical health routine.
I mentioned that Magnesium is very much present in chocolate and while magnesium is a veritable powerhouse when it comes your body and brain, it also drastically impacts mood. As with most things, there must be balance. If you have too much magnesium in your body, it can negatively impact your mood and the same is true for a magnesium deficiency. I am choosing to focus on the deficiency as many people for various reasons are eating diets that are not magnesium rich. An excess is possible, but unlikely for most people.
A lack of magnesium can leave you, yes you a CRANKY mess. It can increase your chances of insomnia, depression, anxiety and physical inability to deal with stress. No one has time for that! It is believed that magnesium helps to regulate neurotransmitters AND affect the hypothalamus which controls a lot...but for the sake of this convo, the pituitary and adrenal glands according to Healthline. Not all forms of magnesium cross the blood brain barrier.
While we are discussing dark chocolate here, you also have options of nuts, dark green leafy vegetables and my FAVORITE, avocado.
So, how would you incorporate this velvety blessing into your world and diet? There are many options, but I recommend choosing a fairly traded and organic dark chocolate with at least 70% cacao. Make it dark. The darker the better…and the more bitter. The more bitter, the more it will also support your liver. 70% is a good start…but perhaps you can kick it up a notch to 80% or higher.
Perhaps consider it inside of a smoothie, a rich, dark hot chocolate, or a candy bar. Make sure to keep the sugar low. When the sugar is low, it can be a bit of a challenge to consume the dark chocolate until you develop a taste for it. But, that is where the beauty of the human body comes in…your tastes will change. You are SO adaptable! If it is PURELY taste, you can train yourself to appreciate the taste of a bitter dark chocolate. If you are challenged by the smell of chocolate, then the smoothie option may suit you well.
You can work to increase your tolerance through repeated exposure if you are NOT allergic. If you are allergic...might I recommend avocado? If you are challenged by dark chocolate, but believe it to be beneficial and desire it to be apart of your routine, think of it as medicine. Take it earlier in the day (it is still caffeinated) and consume it with a protein. Dark chocolate and peanut butter? Dark chocolate in a smoothie with Greek yogurt and berries? Dark chocolate and almonds? The choice is yours. Have fun with it.
Word to the wise...take it at night if you are choosing the supplement route. Do this for two potential reasons:
It can help you to ease your stress and anxiety and help you slumber well
You might poop. Let's get it in a couple of hours before bed
If you are curious as to why we are consuming it with a protein, don’t worry, I will soon compose a blog on the role of protein and your mood…but for now, trust me. Protein can act as a stabilizer and it will help boost the affects of chocolate in your journey toward improving your mood.