Information is starting to flooding the web, television shows, commercials, and even on radio as products start emerging out of nowhere that say “it’s ok to eat chocolate” and list all those powerful health ingredients nobody even realized were in there! More and more people are flocking to the store to purchase chocolate in bulk as they find out, but don’t rush to the store and start stocking up just yet.
Chocolate does have a powerful set of benefits but it also has its cons. For one, if it’s not pure dark unadulterated chocolate- then it may not be as healthy as you need. If it’s milk chocolate, its health benefits are cut almost in half.
What to Look For When Seeking Out a Healthy Chocolate Product
Look at the packaging and make sure that a minimum of 70% of it is pure cocoa.
Dark chocolate is often bitter and takes some time to get used to. Many different brands lately have been making dark chocolate designed to maintain its health benefits. Each one has a slightly different taste, so play around with what’s available after checking it’s contents (for cocoa saturation) and see which one you can get used to the easiest and which one you like the most. You may want to try different ones to keep it fresh and varied in flavors. Dark chocolate is an acquired taste but once you acquire a taste for the bitterness, all other types of dark chocolate tend to taste more harmonized giving you a new realm of chocolate flavors to keep things fresh!
Make sure you check the ingredients for fats and other ingredients that are fatty, sugary, and unhealthy. Some manufacturers claim the chocolate is healthy, but then add a ton of sugar and vegetable fat, which can counter the benefits. Look for products NOT containing palm, coconut, or milk fats.
Choose products that contain a generous amount of cocoa butter and no other fats. All fats in chocolate are saturated fats, but cocoa butter has a neutral effect on your cholesterol levels. Other fats can and tend to raise your cholesterol, while cocoa butter doesn’t really affect it at all either way.
Cocoa drinks need to be chosen even more carefully as they tend to be more “other ingredients” and only 10 percent chocolate. Drinking the wrong chocolate drink could give you nothing but fat and sugar content and worse, if it contains milk, even the miniscule amount of chocolate in it is canceled out because the body’s intestines can’t absorb it. Make sure the chocolate in the drink is NOT Dutch processed, but unsweetened (and no milk).
How the chocolate is processed is paramount in figuring out if it’s healthy or not. Most store bought chocolate is purposely processed in a way that removes the bitter taste caused from polyphenols. The problem is it also removes most of the flavonoids. This is done simply to improve the taste. This makes most of the chocolate out there today that’s been processed (or over-processed) into candy, which is unhealthy. Never assume all chocolate has health benefits because some really doesn’t. Buy your chocolate smart and be selective. The chocolate manufacturers use roasting followed by “Dutching” the chocolate to remove the bitter taste. Dutching is an alkalizing process that tends to neutralize the bite because the Dutching and roasting process destroys the flavonoids. But again this exchanges health benefits for taste (not the direction you want)
The good news is that, thanks to the popularity of healthy chocolate products and all the news being spread by marketers and health experts alike, the major companies are now interested in offering these benefits themselves by offering “healthier dark chocolate” options, high in polyphenols. (Without taking away the great taste)
Researching Chocolate Products For Your Health Regimen
Armed with this information, are you ready to start finding a way to add chocolate (moderately) into your healthy diet? Below are a few helpful tips to consider when researching for the best chocolate with the highest power ingredients possible:
- Make sure when they process the beans, they DON’T roast them, but rather dry them in the sun. Roasting can destroy the flavinoids and thus the health benefits.
- Make sure in their processing, the temperature doesn’t exceed 110 degrees (F).
- If it mentions that there was an alkalization process or “Dutching”, this is not the right choice. No high quality chocolate ever gets “Dutched” or “Roasted”. It’s treated very organically and the reason it’s high end is that it’s “pure” chocolate.
If you’re watching the pounds and want to keep them off, keep this in mind: Dark Chocolate has health benefits, but it has an equal or greater amount of weight-gaining fats and sugars. One ounce of even the healthiest dark chocolate contains approximately 150 calories.