As much as I enjoy holidays (of course who doesn’t!) I often dread the return to normal life with extra weight gain from too much enjoyment. Whether we go away for the holidays or not, the celebration of holidays is strongly associated with the pleasure of eating and that often carries with it weight gain. One such holiday, associated with yummy chocolate sweets, is just around the corner: Easter, accompanied with its’ entourage of Easter chocolate eggs and what nots…
So if you’re “forced” to eat chocolate anyway, why not eat it wisely and gain its’ many secret benefits rather than suffer with the negatives of weight gain.

1)Dark chocolate is an antioxidant! 

Dark chocolate is loaded with organic compounds that are biologically active and function as antioxidants. These include polyphenols, flavanols, catechins, among others.

One study we looked at showed that cocoa and dark chocolate contained more antioxidant activity, polyphenols and flavanols than other fruits that were tested, including blueberries and Acai berries (both known for their high antioxidant activity). If you don’t know what the fuss about antioxidants really is: they are what’s needed to fight against free radicals which basically damage your cells. Hence they are protect you skin and fight the damage in your body. Of course our body produces both the free radicals and the antioxidants if left to its own devices. But stress, unhappiness, exposure to free radicals in the environment (pollution, unprotected sun, radiation, etc) and a poor diet basically leave our body at risk for more free radicals and fewer antioxidants which means problems with body and skin, diseases, illnesses, etc. A good, healthy diet and positive stress management helps us to produce more antioxidants to help match the free radicals.

2) Chocolate is a diet friendly food. Apparently dark chocolate (of a high enough percentage) can even suppress your cravings, which could help with healthy weight management.

Just to be clear normal packaged chocolate sweets and candy are very unhealthy and have little or no health benefits! They are packed with sugar, calories and have no nutritional value! Dark chocolate on the other hand is a great diet food because it “can satisfy your food cravings and sweet tooth. A study found that dark chocolate is more filling than milk chocolate, and it can help to reduce your cravings for fatty, sweet and salty foods. It doesn’t matter if you’re craving potato chips, tacos, or Jellybeans–a bit of dark chocolate (70% or more) will help to shut down your cravings.” (https://www.positivehealthwellness.com/diet-nutrition/12-proven-benefits-dark-chocolate-no-8-best/

3) Chocolate increases your brain function.

Now that’s a special treat for all of you students out there, or just anyone who wants a good, functioning brain! Have you noticed that when you study hard or are engaged in work that demands a lot of brain activity, you find yourself craving sugar and chocolate? Your body is clever and knows to send you signals to crave the substances that can help your brain to re-boot “your brain, like all other parts of your body, requires oxygen and nutrients to survive and thrive. Dark chocolate helps to increase circulation and produce more red blood cells, which help your body to send more oxygen and nutrients to your brain”. Now that’s pretty clever, isn’t it!
So if you work in a intensive environment, or are intensively studying, have a bit of dark chocolate lying around and give your brain a break for a while nurturing its’ craving in a healthy way.
Ways to eat dark chocolate
Obviously not everyone enjoys dark chocolate, but considering the health benefits, isn’t it a taste that should to be acquired? We are used to highly sweetened, manufactured desserts that corrupted our natural taste buds. Dark chocolate is not sweet in the conventional sense, yet it is a nutritious and filling product that can easily work as a desert. Below a few ways in which I enjoy dark chocolate:
1) Shave 99% (really healthy) dark chocolate onto my morning yogurt bowl with fruits and home made granola.
 2) Simply take a bite of a dark chocolate with coffee or tea.
3) Sweetened with a bit of fresh or dried  fruits and raw or Manuka honey.
4) Baked into a dark chocolate gluten free brownie.
5) On of my PA’s favourite desert is also super nutritious: avocado and black chocolate mousse. It is so rich in flavour and texture you will never be able to tell that it is free from dairy! Check out the recipe here .
A side note:It’s always better to get good quality dark chocolate and work with, even if you mix raw honey with it for sweetness, rather than buying milk chocolate or processed chocolate of any kind (most commercial chocolate companies). Milk chocolate is highly processed and contains many harmful substances… Of course you can find expensive good milk chocolate but it will never be as nutritious for you as black chocolate is.