Coffee and chocolate – we salute you

The awesome health benefits from the cocoa and coffee beans

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Photo by Charisse Kenion on Unsplash

Drink coffee moderately. Don’t eat chocolate. Actually, don’t drink coffee…wait – some chocolate is okay…

Make up your minds!

In fact, don’t bother. The verdict is in and it’s good news, in fact excellent news if you’re partial to the delights from the coffee and cocoa beans.

Let’s take a quick peek at why coffee and chocolate make us feel so good and why it would be a crime not to indulge in them.

COFFEE

Sip – ah, that’s the stuff.

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Ask most people why they can’t get by without a cup of the dark stuff and they’ll shrug and say, “It picks me up and tastes good”.

Which is perfectly true and fair enough.

But how exactly does that life-affirming caffeine work?

Our brain has a compound called adenosine which slows down our nervous system and induces drowsiness. Great at 11pm when you need to hit the hay, not so welcome at 7am with the whole day ahead of you.

However when caffeine comes bursting through the doors it throws adenosine out of the way and starts speeding up our nervous system.

Action! Your conversation becomes livelier, you churn through your emails and vacuum the house in 8 minutes.

It gets better.

Not only does caffeine literally wake the body up, but with boring old adenosine out of the way caffeine then activates our dopamine levels. Dopamine is the chemical in our brain that releases feelings of pleasure.

Based on this, if you’re feeling a little blue or listless then a regular coffee hit can help alleviate it.

Improved energy and mood levels- so far, so good.

But wait – there’s more.

Coffee / caffeine also produces paraxanthine (easy for you to say), a chemical that helps reduce damage to the liver.

And for those reading and thinking, perfect – I can down 2 bottles of wine a night and fix it all with an espresso – sadly no, that would be silly.

But if you do love a drink then a few coffees a day will make your liver eternally grateful.

Coffee is also packed with antioxidants. Love me an antioxidant!

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These are compounds that help prevent or at least slow down damage to our blood cells that can lead to cancer, stroke and heart disease. Coffee ranks up with renowned antioxidant heavyweights berries and green tea.

CHOCOLATE

If you’ve ever said to yourself, I really must cut down on chocolate then for shame.

It’s crazy talk and you know it. Why deprive yourself of one of life’s riches that makes the birds sing and and the sun shine brighter?

We have good news and good news. Chocolate is not just

mouth-wateringly good, but also healthy-for-you-good.

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To be clear, we’re focusing mainly on dark chocolate here, although the milk varieties also come with some similar perks.

Just like its good pal coffee, chocolate comes full to the brim with the word of the day – yes, antioxidants!

Serious facts alert:

At the Yale School of Public Health physician David L Katz and his associates tested the antioxidant presence in dark chocolate in comparison to other foods such as berries, nuts and seafood.

Katz found that dark chocolate or the cacao plant to be amongst the highest-scoring foods containing antioxidants.

“Silly scientists, we could’ve told you that,” say those from civilizations that have always sought the health benefits of the cacao plants and its cocoa beans.

Indigenous cultures from Central and South America have traditionally turned to cacao and its chocolate form for their healing and medicinal capabilities.

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Apart from protecting cells against the onset of cancer or stroke, the antioxidants from cocoa can significantly lower LDL cholesterol (the bad guy).

While your insides and taste buds are being looked after, chocolate also goes to work on boosting your mental well-being.

Scientists at the University College London carried out tests on over 13,000 people. They found that anyone who’d eaten dark chocolate over the past 24 hours were 70% less likely to report any feelings of depression or anxiety.

This is mainly thanks to flavanols which are a plant compound found in cocoa and especially dark chocolate. Flavanols stimulate the brain resulting in enhanced alertness and improved mood.

So that’s why I can’t stop eating it…

If dark chocolate isn’t a regular part of your diet you could do a lot worse than nibbling on a few pieces every day.  Not entire bars of course, but a few tasty little chunks will do wonders.

Embrace the cocoa and coffee bean. Wash down delicious dark chocolate with a freshly brewed rich coffee.

Photo by Aziz Acharki on Unsplash

Feel guilty if you aren’t enjoying these every day.

2 Comments

  1. I just loved reading this confirmation of what I’ve long believed to be true & have done some research on just this topic.
    These were the 2 commodities (together with my must have Bonsoy) which I confess to panic buying from my grocery supplier during lockdown. I am very particular about brands & always choose chocolate which has at least 85%cocoa.

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