Can chocolate be a health food?

Raw cacao contains antioxidants and phytonutrients which make it a healthy choice for chocolate lovers.

In its raw form, chocolate is a source of antioxidants, phytonutrients and some minerals

Nutritionist and author Meghan Telpner is working on a new cookbook. (courtesy Meghan Telpner)
Like it or not, Easter and chocolate are hard to separate. But for holistic nutritionist and author Meghan Telpner, not all chocolate is created equally.

“If we’re gonna eat chocolate we want to get a really good quality [one] and my top recommendation is always a raw chocolate, a raw cacao," she said. "Before the roasting process, when our chocolate is raw, it’s full of nutrients, phytonutrients, antioxidants, it’s one of the richest sources of magnesium.”

And while there are some commercially prepared chocolate bars and treats made from raw chocolate, they aren't widely available outside urban areas with well stocked health food stores. But Telpner said you can make your own chocolate treats pretty easily.

Meghan Telpner's black bean chocolate pudding. (courtesy Meghan Telpner)
“One of my favourites is simply to melt it together with a little bit of coconut oil and a little bit of honey. You can set that in your freezer and that will make a solid chocolate that you just made from scratch," she explained. 

"You can take that as a liquid form and use it as a fondue, you can put it over your ice cream, and that will harden like a chocolate crackle.”

But if it's the temptations outside your house that are cause for concern, Telpner offered some strategic tips to ensure you won’t end up face down in a bowl of candied eggs. 

“If you’re going into a holiday knowing that you might indulge a little bit, it’s wise to choose one thing that you might treat yourself to," she said. 

"But that doesn’t mean... you need to eat the entire cake, or the entire giant Easter bunny. A small amount should be sufficient. You want to eat it in the spirit of celebration, leave the guilt and negative feelings aside.”

Telpner also suggests making sure the meal you eat before you indulge is a balanced one. "You want to have the fat, a good protein, you want to have fiber with your meal, all of those things will help stabilize your blood sugar.”

Telpner said that small step of balancing your blood sugar will reduce cravings and help you avoid eating the whole bowl of treats.

“Holidays should be times of celebration but we also don’t want to come out of holidays feeling worse than we did going in. And that’s just something to think about when we’re choosing what our indulgent is going to be,” she said.