Chocolate is more than a Valentine's Day treat … it’s a heart-warming gift! Recent research suggests that chocolate with more than 70 percent cocoa content has the capacity to boost mood and stimulate serotonin, the “feel-good” hormone.
Originally cultivated by the Aztecs 2,000 years ago, cocoa has a long history of fueling that “inner glow.” Combined with sugar, cocoa butter, milk and chocolate liquor to create what we know as chocolate, cocoa is one of the nation’s most beloved treats.
What if it were possible to enjoy the mood-boosting qualities of cocoa without hopping on the blood-sugar roller coaster you feel after eating a milk chocolate bar? Thankfully, it is! When eaten in its raw form, unsweetened cocoa touts a bundle of antioxidant-supporting nutrients and a mood-boosting serotonin precursor, L-Tryptophan. All you need is a little bit of creativity to pair it with other health-promoting ingredients, such as dates, nuts, coconut and sea salt to make truffles for those you love.
Below are some simple options to incorporate cocoa into your diet as well as a recipe that is worthy of your true this Valentine’s Day!
—By Ellie Freeman, dietetic intern, and Debra Boutin, MS, RD, chair and dietetic internship director, Department of Nutrition and Exercise Science at Bastyr University.
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