Thursday, April 15, 2010

Cocoa Reduces Inflammation associated with Heart Disease!


Who doesn't need an excuse to eat more (or any) chocolate?!

According to the American Heart Association, "Heart disease isn't just a man's disease. Heart attack, stroke and other cardiovascular diseases are devastating to women, too. In fact, coronary heart disease, which causes heart attack, is the single leading cause of death for American women. Many women believe that cancer is more of a threat, but they're wrong. Nearly twice as many women in the United States die of heart disease, stroke and other cardiovascular diseases as from all forms of cancer, including breast cancer."

As it turns out, the cocoa bean is a cute little bean that is full of flavonoids-- "Naturally occuring antioxidants found abundantly in certain fruits and vegetables, tea, and red wine. A new study suggests that flavonoids in chocolate may be good for the heart..." (

The cocoa has been shown in research studies to lower levels of "adhesion molecules--proteins that cause white cells and other substances to stick to the walls of the arteries."

So what does this mean for you, my lovely lady readers? As it turns out, any chocolate that you eat should not be processed (or be as close to pure as possible). Processed chocolate adds all kinds of sugars and destructive chemicals/processes (is not raw!) while lowering the flavonoid count. According to this article on Harvard Women's Health Watch, "Pure chocolate is made of nonfat cocoa solids and cocoa butter. The higher the nonfat cocoa solid content, the higher the flavonoid content will be... White chocolate contains no nonfat cocoa solids."

So basically, on a raw diet, throw in some of that cocoa to your smoothies or make some kind of awesome raw dessert + cocoa. BUT, always remember that these nutritional benefits are only gained if you eat in moderation. Plus, if you are trying to lose weight through raw food, try to limit your chocolate intake!

Here's some more tidbits about cocoa: "Unlike saturated fats found in meat and dairy products, the saturated fats in chocolate do not elevate cholesterol levels. Cocoa butter contains small amounts of plant sterols...which may help inhibit the absorption of dietary cholesterol. Chocolate flavonoids prevent the excessive clumping together of blood platelets that can cause blood clots. Chocolate can provide significant amounts of arginine, an amino acid that is required in the production of nitric oxide. Nitric oxide causes blood vessels to dilate, which helps regulate blood flow, inflammation, and blood pressure."

Um, cool, right!? RIGHT.

So, what is YOUR favorite raw chocolate recipe??

EDIT: My friend Ashley Detig sent me this recipe -- not sure where she got it, but I am making it for a dinner date we have tonight! I am super excited about it!

Chocolate Fudge Cake (adapted from Ani Phyo's Desert book)

Fudge Cake:
3 cups dry walnuts
2/3 cup cacao powder or carob powder
1/4 t. sea salt
1c pitted Medjool dates

*Combine in walnuts, cacao powder, salt in food processor and pulse until coarsely mixed (avoid overprocessing), add dates and pulse until mixed well. Shape into two stackable cakes of desired shape.

Frosting: (best frosting I've ever had!)
1/3 semi-soft pitted Medjool dates
1/4 agave syrup
1/2 ripe avocado flesh (about one medium avocado)
1/3 c cacao powder

*Combine dates and agave syrup in food processor and process until smooth. Add avocado and process until smooth. Add cacao powder and process until smooth.

~To serve, frost top of one cake, and top with a fruit of choice (raspberries, cherries, strawberries) or coconut, or just more frosting! Stack toe second cake on top and frost the top and side. Devour! 

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