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Cacao: Raw, Unadulterated Chocolate

Many people suffer from an addiction to chocolate more than any other food, myself included.
There was a time in my life when I literally couldn’t go a day without indulging in some chocolate buttons or a bag of M & M’s. However, now that I’m slightly older and more health conscious I’ve made painstaking efforts to help curb my chocolatey cravings.

I’ve always been keen to learn about the effects certain foods will have on my mind and body and through various research I’ve found that chocolate isn’t as bad as it may seem. In fact, the cacao bean--the ingredient from which all chocolate is made--is extremely high in antioxidant flavanoids, sulfur and magnesium. Now, before you reach for your next Dairy Milk, I must tell you that the antioxidants in regular chocolate are almost all gone due to it being heated and processed. It is natural cocoa and cacao beans that have got all the good stuff.

In 2006, the Journal of Nutrition did a test concentrating on the flavanols present in natural cocoa. A group of women were given a flavanol rich cocoa drink upon consuming which showed 15 percent less reddening of their skin when exposed to UV light. They also showed significant improvements in skin texture and hydration. One theory suggests that this is a result of the antioxidant properties of the flavanols giving the skin extra protection against free radicals (the reactive forms of oxygen generated when your skin comes into contact with UV light). As well as being very high in antioxidants, the sulfur present in cacao also promotes beautiful skin while helping to build strong hair and nails. I’ve recently purchased my own bag of Organic Cacao Nibs (broken chunks of cacao bean) from Whole Foods in Kensington as well a bag of Cocoa Powder from Holland & Barrett. I drink the cocoa mixture once a day and munch on the nibs sparingly. Raw chocolate is definitely an acquired taste but, although it has only been three days, I’m already seeing (and feeling) results. My skin definitely has gained a more natural glow to it and I feel like I have more energy and focus to get through the day. My mood has elevated as well which is always good. If you can get past the bitter taste of raw chocolate I would definitely recommended including this brilliant superfood into your diet.

Sophia Hilt

Reference:

Heinrich, U., Neukam, K., Tronnier. H., Sies, H., Stahl, W., 2006. Long-term ingestion of high flavanol cocoa provides photoprotection against UV-induced erythema and improves skin condition in women. Journal of Nutrition, 136(6), pp.1565-9.

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The prevalence of skin disease exceeds that of obesity, hypertension, or cancer. Despite skin being the largest organ of the human body, dermatological research remains one of the most under funded areas of medicine. In a world where society has an increasing preoccupation with image and it’s importance to every aspect of a person’s life, sufferers of skin diseases are feeling and being more marginalised and isolated than ever.

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