You may have noticed that this week is National Chocolate week-Why? I’m not really sure although I would imagine that chocolate manufacturers may have something to do with it! Whatever the reason, like many people I don’t need much of an excuse to eat chocolate and besides there is plenty of scientific evidence to suggest that chocolate may be good for you.

So what are the health benefits of eating chocolate?

First and foremost quality and quantity have a part to play here. In looking at the health benefits of chocolate we are looking at good quality chocolate containing high cocoa solids of 70% plus and of course it must be eaten in moderation as chocolate also contains large quantities of sugar and fat which may be detrimental to health.

Eating dark chocolate may increases the levels of endorphins such as phenylethylamine, serotonin and dopamine released into the brain which may work to lessen pain, decrease stress, act as an anti depressant and generally increase our sense of wellbeing. It is an excellent source of flavonoids which may offer some protection against cardiovascular disease symptoms. It also has a relatively low glycaemic load (GL) compared with many sweet snacks and eating it with nuts will reduce this further.

Four small squares of good quality dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids) and preferably organic eaten with a palm of nuts should provide a perfectly healthy snack and provided that the rest of your diet is generally low GL you should not have problems with craving more.

Here is a traditional French recipe for chocolate mousse which is incredibly easy to make and does not involve the addition of any extra fat or sugar. A serving of raspberries would be very complimentary and provide further nutritional benefits.

Chocolate Mousse

Ingredients

100g/4 oz Dark chocolate

4 eggs separated

3 tablespoons water

Vanilla essence

Method

Beat the egg yolks with 1tbs water.

Melt the chocolate, being very careful not to overheat and mix in the 2 remaining tbsp water

Beat the egg whites till stiff being careful not to over beat.

Mix the egg yolk mixture into the melted chocolate then gently fold in the egg white.

Pour into ramekins or Paris goblets.

Note

This recipe works best with Cadburys Bournville Dark Chocolate although it isn’t 70% cocoa solids. It has been re branded and is now 60%cocoa solids which is not far off. I have made it using Green & Blacks 70% dark chocolate, but the texture is a lot heavier. Using the Bournville and then grating some chocolate containing 70% or even 85% cocoa solids on top may compensate here.

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