Chocolate is often associated with decadence and, especially during Valentine’s season, a gift we give to each other (and ourselves) as a “treat.” But behind chocolate’s treat is also tradition: Chocolate has been lauded since its cultivation by the Mayans and Aztecs as an ancient medicine.
Maybe we can rationalize eating a whole box of them with some evidence-based findings about chocolate’s health benefits. Unfortunately, these finding generally only apply to cocoa in its purest form (cacao) or dark chocolate. The health costs associated with sugar and milk often added to chocolate for taste can outweigh the potential benefits. For the flavorful benefits of chocolate without all the negatives, we recommend dark chocolate or even vegan chocolate alternatives, like our vegan hot chocolate that has the added benefits of coconut milk instead of dairy milk.
Evidence-Based Health Benefits of Chocolate:
Dark chocolate is full of antioxidants. One study showed that cocoa and dark chocolate have even more antioxidant activity than fruits like blueberries and acai berries.
According to one study, cocoa and dark chocolate can even lower blood pressure slightly. In another, cocoa was even shown to reduce the risk of heart disease. The latter followed 470 elderly men over 15 years found that cocoa lowered their risk of heart disease by 50%. A similar study followed subjects’ consumption of dark chocolate 5 times a week and found that doing so had lowered their risk of heart disease by 57%.
Finally, because of cocoa’s popularity, there is enough research to date to suggest that the benefits of cocoa and dark chocolate consumption likely outweigh the risks. This is still barring any mention of the added fats or sweeteners commonly found in chocolate.
These are just a few of the benefits of eating chocolate. If you’re looking for other plant-based ways of incorporating chocolate into your diet, we’ve recently created our own vegan chocolate dessert recipes, like:
- White Chocolate Truffles (GF)
- Ooey Gooey Chocolate Lava Cakes (Vegan)
- Chocolate Cake Pops (Vegan, GF)
For even more recipes, we’ve recently partnered with About to Sprout and Rise and Yum to create a FREE E-Book of Valentine’s Day-inspired, vegan, dairy-free, and decadent recipes. The Coconut Cloud February E-Book launches on 2/14, so be sure to sign up for it here.