10 Feb

Chocolate Power

The idea that chocolate could be good for you is simply too good too be true. Isn't it? Well not according to new research that has looked at the powerful effects of antioxidants for developing and maintaining a healthy immune system. A healthy immune system is essential for the body to perform optimally and getting good quality sleep and limiting the level of stress experienced helps maintain this system. What we eat also has an important role to play in maintaining antioxidant levels in the body.

Many foods contain a certain level of antioxidants (fruit and vegetables are the main sources) but certain individuals may require higher levels of antioxidants depending on their lifestyle. For example, highly active individuals and endurance athletes place their bodies under greater stress resulting in a higher level of the damaging free-radical cells or oxidative stress which leads to cell damage. Bob Seebohar, the performance director at the Colorado Centre for Altitude Training and Performance suggests that "antioxidants increase the ability to 'quench' this oxidative stress and therefore improve health, performance and possibly recovery time".

image of Xocai choc nuggets

Good quality dark chocolate with a higher cocoa content is healthier than the creamier, milky chocolate which generally has higher sugar content and a subsequent higher calorific value. This is because cocoa is essentially a vegetable and contains one of the most natural, unprocessed forms of antioxidants found in any food. As a result, Powered by Chocolate, the distributors of a new range of XOÇAI chocolate, claim it delivers one of the highest sources of antioxidants.

XOÇAI chocolate is manufactured by a unique patented cold-pressed process which preserves the natural cocoa, it is then combined with Açai berry, which is also one of the highest sources of natural antioxidants known. Your average chocolate bar contains fats, preservatives, fillers and sugars, but XOÇAI has been uniquely created to provide maximum antioxidant benefits and minimise the negatives - the fats and the sugars, usually associated with chocolate. Powered by Chocolate tell us that while the ingredients are extremely valuable, the real secret to XOÇAI chocolate is in the processing. Typically cocoa beans are fermented, roasted, alkalised and diluted with sugars, fats and preservatives - the majority of the antioxidant content is lost. Even other chocolate claiming 70% cocoa content can not compare to XOÇAI, because typically it is processed and the antioxidant benefits are enormously reduced.

So, there's the science behind the product, but does it still taste like chocolate?

www.scottishrunningguide.com got together a group of runners of all ages to try out the two types of chocolate. On the whole, there was a positive response. If you are not a dark chocolate fan, then these are definitely not for you! Both very rich, you can almost feel the quality cocoa pouring down your neck as you suck on a piece! Both types are designed to be sucked and not chewed, like with most dark chocolate. The chocolate squares have a more creamy taste, while the chocolate nuggets with the Açai berries added, is less so. From the taste testers, the general thoughts were that the chocolate, especially the chocolate squares did taste just like top quality dark chocolate and that both were very palatable.

Here's what the taste testers said:

"Wow, it is just like dark chocolate! I can't believe that this is actually good for you as well&";

"Yum Yum! You can really taste the goodness in them and the quality of them. By sucking them they last for ages, you would only need to eat one or two pieces";

"More please! Where can I buy them?"

"I am not a big dark chocolate fan, so I probably wouldn't go out of my way to get them, they are very rich, but they do taste like chocolate still and if they really do give the training benefits suggested then I might be converted from my favourite milk chocolate!"

www.scottishrunningguide.com is going to put the chocolate to the test. We will be conducting a trial of the chocolate over 2 weeks to see if the training benefits stated by the manufacturer are evident. So with the makers suggesting that the 'recommended 3 pieces of chocolate a day can result in improved sporting endurance and muscle recovery' this is what we are going to do; 2 weeks, 3 pieces of the chocolate a day, training as normal, we will see what effect the chocolate has. We'll let you know when the results are posted at www.scottishrunningguide.com for the results.

If you fancy giving XOÇAI a try visit the UK distributor Powered by Chocolate. www.scottishrunningguide.com would love to here your thoughts and comments on what it tastes like and if you think it really works! Submit your feedback and comments to this post and let us know if you were able to satisfy your chocolate cravings, improve your immune system or aid your exercise recovery ... and whether this was all without the normal chocolate guilt!

NB. Bob Sebahor's comments are reprinted with his permission.