Functional foods aren’t new but they are ever evolving, riding on the crest of a trend and difficult to keep a track of. If you’re anything like me you’ll feel like today’s food hero is tomorrow’s food villain, right?
So let me talk to you about a functional food that you can feel confident to hang your hat on because it’s been on trend for millennia: chocolate.
Depending on which version of the truth you’re privy to (incidentally mine comes courtesy of David at Coeur de Xocolat) chocolate has been a functional food since the god Quetzalcoatl brought it down from heaven as a gift for his followers. Well before it became a sweet treat, chocolate was synonymous with virility, power and potency and was reserved for a society’s elite.
The ancient associations don’t quite resonate in the same way nowadays however it’s reasonably well-known that dark chocolate is a good source of antioxidants and may reduce the risk of heart disease but did you know some of the other fabulous qualities chocolate and cocoa can have? I’ll hand over to an expert to help me explain…
‘Chocolate, like anything, should be enjoyed as part of a controlled and balanced diet but there are numerous health benefits associated to with chocolate. Eating chocolate may reduce cholesterol, help to prevent cognitive decline and also may reduce the risk of cardiovascular issues.’ (David Greenwood-Haigh, Chocolate Consultant).
So, if chocolate can be such an awesome food, why do we feel the need to vilify some of its qualities? Why do we also feel the need to try and find an entirely new strain of food to get our functional fix? I’m not advocating the unadulterated use of sugar but it’s not the enemy if it’s used in the right way, right? So why can’t chocolate be synonymous with what we term functional foods today?
One pioneer that’s looking to bridge the gap is Personal Trainer and Wellness Consultant, Carole Armitage. She sent me through some samples and I asked a keen cycling mate of mine, Adam, to help me review them…
I’m ashamed to say that I don’t do anywhere near enough training to justify reviewing Carole’s Wellness Series so I asked a mate of mine to step in…I mean who’s going to say no to some free chocolate? I think he was more flattered that he thinks I asked him to be a ‘model’ if I’m honest…simple things!
Carole has produced a range of three wellness chocolate bars specifically designed for stages of exercise: pre, during, post. This structure creates a really simple platform for users to engage with and removes some of the mystique and confusion associated with the functional food category.
I am a big believer that taste is king, no matter how functional a food is and this is often sacrificed in favour of additional fortifications or benefits. Carole has certainly not fallen into this trap by creating a range of great tasting chocolate:
Maintenance / Pre Run
Apple Pie’: Milk Chocolate, Dried apple rings, Cinnamon, Star Anise, Hazelnuts & Smashed Pecans
‘Nutty Boost’: Milk Chocolate, Flax Seeds, Toasted Pecans, Caramelised hazelnuts, Almonds, Pistachios and Brazil Nuts and a hint of Hibiscus.
Recovery / Post Run ‘Banana Loaf’: Milk Chocolate, Dried Banana, Brazil Nuts and Caramelised Hazelnuts.
OK, so you’re probably thinking how on earth can any of that be considered functional or part of a healthy lifestyle? Well education plays a key role in any functional food brand and Carole does a good job of breaking down each component in each stage and stating the reason why they exist.
So, what was the verdict? For that, I’ll have to hand over to Adam…
‘The chocolate tasted great and really helped through my cycle. I’ve played around with different types of gels and energy supplements on my journeys but I didn’t look forward to having any of those. This Wellness Series gave me something to look forward to eating as well as a boost to performance.’
Thanks to my ‘model’, Adam, for putting himself through the pain of eating free chocolate for me…I owe you one pal!
Details: https://www.carolearmitage.co.uk/product-page/pre-post-recovery-bars (£7.00)
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