chocolate heartYou have probably heard or read that chocolate can be beneficial for your health. In pre-Columbian Mesoamerica, chocolate was considered a “food for the gods”, was used in religious rituals and cacao beans were such a previous commodity that they were even used as a form of currency.

Today we are fortunate that chocolate is readily available, but the big problem is that a lot of commercial chocolate you buy is full of things that are best avoided… such as hydrogenated vegetable oils, sugar, artificial sweeteners, additives, preservatives, colours, flavour, powdered milk solids, and much more.

There is a lot of exciting research coming to light about raw cacao, and the benefits of the cacao bean and dark chocolate. These benefits extend to the heart, vascular system, brain, aging, mood and energy. This is in some part due to the fact that raw cacao is abundant in antioxidants, minerals, vitamins and many unique properties. Cacao contains twice the antioxidant content of red wine, and up to three times that of green tea. These antioxidants can improve cognitive impairment and produce nitric oxide with some great cardiovascular benefits.

The ORAC Score measures the benefits of antioxidants. Here is a comparison of the ORAC score per 100 grams for some common foods known to have a high antioxidant level, listed in descending order.

  • Dark Chocolate – ORAC 13,120
  • Milk Chocolate – ORAC 6,740
  • Prunes – 5,770
  • Raisins – 2,830
  • Blueberries – 2,400
  • Blackberries – 2036
  • Kale – 1,770
  • Strawberries – 1540
  • Spinach – 1260
  • Raspberries – 1220
  • Brussel Sprouts – 980
  • Broccoli – 890

Another important nutrient found in cacao is theobromine (a chemical related to caffeine). Theobromine was discovered in cacao and a few other plants in the 19th century, by 1916 it had been extracted from the bean and was being used in medical treatment for oedema and angina. In modern medicine the compound theobromine is used as a vasodilator, this means it can dilate smooth muscle such as the blood vessels, bronchial tubes, large intestine. It is also used as a diuretic and heart stimulant. Recent research shows the effects of how theobromine can lower blood pressure as well as help with asthma.

Unlike caffeine, theobromine does not have an addictive nature or have the same strong affects as caffeine has on the nervous system. The cacao bean can have up to 10% of its weight made up of theobromine, the effects of the theobromine on the body can be up to 6 – 10 hours after consumption.

Importantly, as many of you will attest, chocolate enhances the mood and boosts energy.

So what is the best way to obtain the benefits of chocolate without the nasty hydrogenated fats and processed sugars? Raw cacao powder is now readily available in health food stores, along with raw cacao chocolate bars in an amazing variety of flavours.

Or experiment and make your own raw chocolate truffles. These make great Christmas presenters and look great packaged up in a pretty box or cellophane wrap and ribbon.


Raw Chocolate Truffles


  • 1/2 cup of sunflower seeds (or any other seeds you have on hand)
  • 1/2 cup walnuts (or any other nuts you have on hand – cashews are wonderful too)
  • 1/2 cup dates
  • 1/8 teaspoon sea salt
  • 4 tablespoons raw cacao powder


  1. Process the nuts in the food processor. Keep processing them until you can’t see the nuts anymore, but stop processing before they get too soft looking.
  2. Add the dates, sea salt and cacao powder. Process again until everything is well mixed and clumped together.
  3. Roll the balls in your hand and form balls. You may also like to roll the completed truffles in goji berries, coconut, cacao powder, etc.

These keep well in the fridge.



Stress and your body, part 1.

stress ballStress is a term commonly used everyday, it is usually considered a negative concept that has some impact on one’s mental or physical wellbeing, but it can be either the cause or the effect.

In nature most processes strive to maintain equilibrium, a steady state of balance, this includes our body on a physical level (our bones and muscles) as well as a physiological level (our organ systems). Environmental factors, internal or external stimuli, continually disrupt this balance, and these factors can be interpreted as stress.

As a chiropractor I am constantly dealing with and correcting the effects of physical stress. These physical stresses include falls and bumps, lifting or carrying heavy loads, prolonged periods of time in poor chairs, unsupportive mattresses or bad shoes, sustained posture, repetitive work or changes in our body for which it must compensate such as pregnancy or a broken bone in the foot, or knee surgery. On a physical level it is often clear to see how these stresses impact us and our wellbeing.

What is not always easy to see is how Emotional stresses impact our body and our wellbeing. I estimate that close to 75% of problems I see in clinic are due either directly or indirectly to emotional stress, but when I say that, people often can’t understand how emotional stress can affect us physically. It can be easier to understand when you consider situations of extreme stress, such as if your life were in danger.

In such a situation you would be feeling alot of emotions such as fear and panic, but your body would also be reacting, in a way that is known as a fight or flight reaction. This means that your body is getting prepared to fight or to flee. There are several things that happen but probably the most obvious sign would be that your heart would begin racing, this would result in you sweating, your body will produce adrenaline,which would make you feel buzzy or nervy. Your pupils will dilate, your blood will be directed to areas of your body that are important for fighting or fleeing (such as your muscles, your lungs and your brain) and away from areas that are not needed for the moment (such as your digestive organs). So you can see that emotions go hand in hand with physical changes.

Thankfully, it is not that common for us to be in a situation that is life threatening, but our modern lifestyles do entail alot of stress, and our bodies are constantly reacting to this stress in many ways, at a low level. These reactions will impact on our bodies in a physical way. Stress and your Body Part 2 will detail signs and symptoms your body may show in response to common low level daily stresses.