At Caveman, we tend to focus on the balance in life. Whether it is exercise, work-life, or nutrition, we want you to find a routine that works for you. Obviously balance doesn’t mean eating junk food every day, nor does it mean eating strict every day either! We believe that an occasional splurge is a good thing, and we want to talk about how one of humanity’s oldest luxuries can be a healthy treat: chocolate!
Now you might be thinking: how can chocolate be paleo? Furthermore, is chocolate even healthy?
We take the position that chocolate can absolutely be paleo, but only if it’s lacking certain additives. If caveman had known about chocolate, we think they would have been into it! Basically, if the chocolate is high in cocoa content plus it doesn’t have dairy, high sugar content, or added fillers, it’s okay to eat if you are trying to follow the paleo diet. Think 70+% cocoa. While it may not be milk or white chocolate, it’s perfectly acceptable on a paleo diet as a nice treat. Chocolate is also loaded with flavonols, which are great for protecting your body from oxidation (a by-product of our body processing food) and eliminating free radicals from your body.
Plus, dark chocolate definitely has a lot of benefits! Dark chocolate with high cocoa content is “choc”-full of antioxidants and nutrients like iron, magnesium, potassium, and zinc. Additionally, it’s got a whole range of benefits attached to it - eating a reasonable serving of dark chocolate every now and then can boost HDL and reduce LDL (good and bad cholesterol levels, respectively), which can have protective benefits against heart disease. Dark chocolate can also give a small boost to your overall blood flow and help reduce high blood pressure, since the flavonols in chocolate stimulate your arteries to produce nitric oxide, which relaxes blood vessels and improves blood flow.
Chocolate even has benefits for your brain! A study conducted in 2017 shows that the flavonols present in chocolate can have benefits for cognition, and can even be protective against cognitive decline from aging. Additionally, other studies have found that cocoa flavonols can improve memory and reflexes with short-term consumption and can improve memory with older users (age 50-69) with regular long-term consumption.
With all that said, remember! While chocolate might be a good occasional treat, eating an entire chocolate bar every night will probably do more harm than good. Just remember to stay balanced, but don’t be afraid to treat yourself every now and then. With something like dark chocolate in moderation, staying balanced means even your dessert can have positive mental and physical benefits.