There’s an exciting buzz going around that chocolate can help you lose weight. Sound too good to be true?

That may be because you need to distinguish between the average chocolate you buy off the shelf, filled with all sorts of fats, starches, dairy and sugars – and then its magical ingredient cacao – the food of the gods!

This superfood in its raw form is much different and holds the key to these claims. If you are wanting to experience some chocolate indulgence plus a svelt bod, cacao is best eaten raw and sweetened with healthy sweeteners such as raw honey or agave.

How Does Raw Cacao Help You Shed Those Kilos?

Metabolism: There have been studies that indicate that raw organic cocoa powder can boost your body’s metabolism by helping it convert fat into energy

Mood: Cacao is one of those feel-good foods we adore because it boosts serotonin in our brains and serotonin (5-hydroxytryptamine, 5-HT) is a feel good chemical essential to our mood balance. It’s found not only in the brain, but the bowels and in blood platelets too. We all know that when we feel down we may be drawn to comfort eating, especially those carbs we crave.

Appetite suppressant: Your body produces a hormone called Ghrelin which increases your appetite. If you are insulin resistant – a major contributor to excess weight and a precursor to type 2 diabetes – you don’t ever feel properly full. A study done in the Netherlands showed that dark chocolate lowered ghrelin levels and improved insulin resistance. Serotonin is also thought to suppress appetite.

Immune Protector: Studies have shown that the powerful antioxidants in cacao protect your body against poor health such as heart disease, high blood pressure and cholesterol, as well as strokes. It raises good cholesterol and thins your blood which helps prevent plaque build-up in your arteries.

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Detoxifier: Cocoa powder is high in fibre which keeps your digestive system working properly – an essential part of removing waste from your body. It’s also very rich in flavonoids and natural antioxidants that protect your body from toxic substances. It has been found that toxins can impede weight loss, so keeping your body as toxin-free as possible is important. Your body uses fat to store toxins it can’t cope with.

Anti-inflammatory: A study at the Louisiana State University showed that cacao can help reduce inflammation, particularly in the digestive tract. For those of us that have experienced the bloating effects of inflammation, you’ll know that it’s very much a part of the weight-loss dilemma. Digestive bloating has an impact on our wellbeing in many ways.

In the mood: Beyond serotonin, anandamide and phenylethylamine are chemicals that create a feeling of euphoria and act as an aphrodisiac – nothing like a bit of happy loving for a good body self-image!

Nutrition: Cacao is extremely nutritious. A slab of 70% dark chocolate contains 16% of your daily fiber needs, as much protein as a cup of broccoli and the fat in the cacao gives you that fuller for longer feeling so you can feel satisfied and avoid binge eating.

Increased energy: Polyphenols found in high-cocoa chocolate increases the energy-producing mitochondria in your muscles, giving you more energy to ward off fatigue and to burn fat.


This handy Make Your Own Chocolate kit includes everything you need to whip up delicious hand crafted treats, including ultra-flexible silicone chocolate moulds from Kitchen Craft, organic virgin coconut oil from Credé, raw organic cacao powder from Soaring Free Superfoods, a jar of raw fynbos honey from Simply Bee or a bottle of pure organic grade B maple syrup from Great Northern. A perfect gift for chocolate lovers!


Make Your Own: Homemade Raw Vegan Chocolate

If you want benefit from the goodness of unadulterated cacao, make your own divinely delicious homemade chocolate. You get to choose healthier sweeteners such as low-carb agave nectar, or fragrant raw honey (for non-vegans) and can add all sorts of nutritious and delicious boosters like nuts, seeds, berries and superfoods.

These make a wonderfully thoughtful festive gift too – package them in a prettily decorated box.

Ingredients

• ¾ cup (170g) cacao butter, melted
• ¼ cup (65g) agave nectar
• ⅔ cup (60g) cacao powder
• ¼ tsp vanilla powder or vanilla extract
• ¼ tsp salt, finely ground

Play around with this recipe by mixing in:

• Dried fruit such as cranberries, goji berries, chopped dates, raisins
• Chopped nuts such as almonds, cashews, pecans
• Natural extracts such as vanilla, peppermint, coffee, orange
• Superfood powders such as maca root, matcha or hempseed
• Spices such as chilli, ginger, cinnamon, cayenne

Useful Equipment

Chocolate moulds
• Double boiler

How to

• Use a double boiler to melt the cacao butter or place in a heat proof bowl in a pan of heated water to make your own double boiler
• Add the agave nectar to the melted cacao butter
• Sieve cacao powder, vanilla powder and salt into the cacao butter
• Whisk until smooth and all ingredients are incorporated
• If you are adding extras, add them now and mix in
• Pour into moulds or paper cookie cups
• Pop in the fridge to set

(Adapted from: eatingvibrantly)

Great for making your own vegan chocolates