Research on chocolate generally points to it having a variety of health benefits. Wait, could it be that chocolate is really a healthy food? Could something so delicious and decadent really promote health instead of detract from it? And, is chocolate really allowed on the Phase One Diet?!?
First, we need to know what chocolate is and where it comes from; this will help us decide if and how chocolate fits into the Phase One Diet, and if it does, get to the bottom of how to best glean the health benefits inherent in chocolate.
Chocolate is derived from the cacao bean, which grows in many tropical regions of the world. These beans are processed into pure chocolate, which is comprised of both cocoa solids and cocoa butter. Pure chocolate has a naturally bitter taste profile, but is loaded with flavonoids. Now, most of us do not think of chocolate as an inherently bitter food; this is because chocolate in the way we generally consume it is loaded with things you would generally seek to avoid, including sugar and dairy products among other preservatives and chemicals (particularly, if you are eating chocolate candy from a convenience store). Chocolate’s caloric content––which is already naturally high due to the presence of the cocoa butter––is also compounded by the added sugar and dairy fat generally found in the chocolate many people consume.
So, generally when we talk about chocolate containing some health benefits, we are not talking about eating a chocolate candy bar. However, chocolate in a more pure form is known to provide some health benefits. These are products such as pure, unsweetened cocoa powder, cacao nibs, and dark chocolate that either been unsweetened, minimally sweetened or sweetened with stevia, xylitol or other non-sugar sweeteners.
Among those health benefits are:
1. Chocolate is thought to promote heart health.
2. Chocolate may assist in preventing diabetes.
3. It boost your mood.
4. Eating chocolate may help prevent a stroke.
5. Chocolate may have benefits for skin.
So what does this mean for those of us on Phase One? It is important to remember that chocolate is derived from a bean, or a legume. This relegates chocolate to something that should likely be enjoyed on the lest restrictive Phase Two Diet, in moderation. It is also important to remember that sugary foods are still advised against on the Phase Two diet. This means you should look for chocolate products with no added sugar.
It is important to remember that there are many foods that may contain inherent health benefits, but also contain components you would wish to avoid. Enjoy chocolate sparingly and smartly on the Phase Two Diet.
Check out our recipes and our bookstore to find more ways to incorporate chocolate into your Phase Two Diet.