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As new research shows that two bars of chocolate a day could cut the risk of a stroke, cocoa's bad reputation is quickly becoming a thing of the past. This superfood (and super beauty ingredient) can help circulation, hydration, the nervous system and also may be beneficial in the fight against ageing. We take a look at how best to incorporate chocolate in our daily life: and not just by eating it (though that too!)
This interesting fruit is where one of our favourite things comes from: chocolate! The pod contains seeds loaded with precious cocoa butter. The butter is packed with antioxidants that help fight off free radicals, a major factor in ageing, and fatty acids, invaluable at promoting hydration. The flavanols contained in cocoa are also thought to help with cardiovascular disease and benefit the nervous system. Cocoa is also a mood enhancer. Picture: Thinkstock
Cocoa butter is an excellent moisturiser that also helps with minor irritations such as eczema. Slather a cocoa-based moisturiser such as Palmer's all over your body and your skin will re-hydrate Instantly, become softer and firmer. What's more, cocoa smells absolutely delicious. Palmer's Cocoa Butter, £3.99.
Not only excellent for the skin, cocoa also works wonders on hair. Try Natural Elements Cocoa and Vanilla Conditioner, a divinely-smelling organic and natural product especially designed to nourish and strengthen the hair, making it manageable, shiny and soft. £9.99.
The antioxidants contained in cocoa fight free radicals and even protect the skin against the damaging UV rays whilst the butter is highly hydrating, soothing and promotes the elasticity of the epidermis, making cocoa an excellent product to use in skincare. Try chocolate based masks zk’in Organic’s Brightening & Hydrating Masque, £29.50, which brightens and moisturises, or Anatomicals Anti-Stress Face Mask, £1, to calm and soothe.
Chocolate has even made it into makeup. Bourjois Delice De Poudre bronzer looks and smells like a chocolate bar. Add a bit of colour to your cheek or contour your face, whilst being transported by this relaxing heavenly scent. £7.99.
Chocolate is packed with antioxidants such as polyphenols, flavanols and catechins, which help lower cholesterol and may help in the fight against ageing. The flavanols also help enhance your mood, that's why we often feel better after eating a piece of choccy. To get the full benefits, buy a good quality, high in cocoa and low in sugar product, such as this gorgeous Single Origin Cocoa Pod Easter Egg by Marks & Spencer, £12.
An excellent emollient, it's no wonder cocoa butter is the base of many lip balms . We love this chocolate and peanut butter one by Reese's, £2.50 from Primark. It feels indulgent but has zero calories. Win win!
Chocolate is said to promote calm and serenity, and not just by eating it, but by inhaling its scent too. Unless you have an inexplicable aversion to the stuff, the smell of cocoa will make you feel immediately warm and cosy. These Chocolate Cupcake Candles by the Country Candle Company are simply heavenly. From £8.50.
If you want the benefits of chocolate, but not the calories, try Crio Brü, a line of cocoa beans with no added lactose or sugar that are brewed and drank just like coffee. The beans are naturally packed with theobromine, a gentle, non addictive stimulant, to give you just the kick you need in the morning. £11.99 for a pack of 340gr.
Cocoa makes an excellent addition to breakfast, either in the form of raw powder or nibs (unprocessed cocoa beans broken into bits). High in magnesium and potassium, cocoa supports the nervous system and makes for an excellent start of the day. Try Dr Gaye Super Shake (£6.99 for 100gr) or Super Spoonful (£22.50 for 400gr), or add a few Naturya Organic Nibs (£7.99) to your smoothie, yoghurt or granola.
Made without sugar or palm out, this chocolate-hazelnut spread can be enjoyed by those who can't have sugar but still want the goodness of cocoa this Easter, whether it's for its health benefits, mood enhancing properties or simply its deliciousness! £2.60 for 350gr jar.