You may already know that eating dark chocolate has numerous health benefits and is known to be one of nature's aphrodisiacs. But did you know that the sexual arousal effect can be further enhanced in combination with certain herbs?
When I was doing research for my book, Meals That Heal Inflammation, the Indian ginseng, ashwagandha, piqued my interest. This powerful root contains flavonoids that are anti-inflammatory, anti-tumour and anti-stress. It's an antioxidant that has mind-boosting and immune-enhancing properties. Combined with GLS (glucosamine sulfate), ashwagandha can also help protect against inflammation and cartilage damage associated with osteoarthritis. Furthermore, it's regarded as an adaptogen – a substance that helps you adapt to stress while enhancing your energy. No wonder it has been used for centuries to promote a healthy libido!
The second herb that can help increase your libido comes from a root called maca that grows in the Peruvian highlands. It also assists the body in balancing hormones, increasing energy, reducing the stress hormone cortisol and improving mood.
These two herbs combined with dark chocolate will make for a lovely treat this Valentine's Day. I've created the ultimate aphrodisiacal chocolate recipe for the occasion, but first, here are five healthful reasons to enjoy more chocolate (just remember it has to be at least 70 percent dark chocolate to count):
1. Dark chocolate can help hypertension-induced erectile dysfunction and those suffering from high blood pressure. Dark chocolate contains flavanols, which have antioxidant properties and increase the bioavailability of nitric oxide, both of which help to reduce blood pressure.
2. Dark chocolate can help prevent/improve diabetes. Flavanols found in dark chocolate can increase insulin sensitivity and the activity of pancreatic beta-cells, the cells responsible for secreting insulin in response to high blood glucose levels. Note: make sure to only eat in moderation.
3. Dark chocolate promotes healthy cholesterol levels. The antioxidants in dark chocolate can increase levels of the “good” HDL (high-density lipoprotein) cholesterol. Also, the fatty acids in dark chocolate can make the “bad” LDL (low-density lipoprotein) cholesterol less susceptible to oxidative damage by altering its fatty acid composition.
4. Dark chocolate can help decrease the risk of cardiovascular diseases. Studies show that in only two hours after consuming 40 grams of dark chocolate, individuals can experience coronary vasodilation, improved coronary vascular function, and reduced platelet adhesion – all of which reduce the risk of developing a cardiovascular disease.
5. Dark chocolate can help alleviate inflammatory conditions. Consuming dark chocolate regularly in small amounts (20 grams every threes days) can reduce symptoms associated with allergies, skin disorders, asthma, heart disease, arthritis, and other conditions ending in “itis”.
Sexy chocolate recipe
Raw chocolate has twice as many antioxidants as processed chocolate so look for it in your local health food store along with maca, ashwagandha and healthy nut butter choices, such as hemp, almond or hazelnut.
1/2 cup coconut butter
1/2 cup of honey
1/2 cup hemp butter (other nut butters work)
1/4 cup aswhaganda powder
1/4 cup maca
1-2 tbsp raw cocoa powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp unrefined sea salt
1. Mix all the dry ingredients together in a bowl. Slowly add in the butters and honey. Blend well.
2. Pour into a silicon mini-muffin tray or chocolate mold. Place in the freezer to set. Store in a cool place.
Nutritionist Julie Daniluk hosts the Healthy Gourmet, a reality cooking show that looks at the ongoing battle between taste and nutrition. Her , Meals That Heal Inflammation, advises on allergy-free foods that both taste great and assist the body in the healing process.
For more amazing recipes visit Chatelaine.com's recipe section.
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