Dark chocolate, full of beneficial antioxidants and polyphenols, has numerous health benefits. Certain types of chocolate are proving to be among the most anti-inflammatory and antioxidant rich foods available. Our goal is to find chocolate that has been minimally processed but still tastes delicious. It’s the higher concentration of cacao seeds in dark chocolate compared to milk chocolate that make the difference. You can easily identify and enjoy high quality chocolate guilt free by remembering a few “choco-facts”:
- Choose chocolate with 70-85 percent cacao/cocoa or higher. Cacao refers to the plant, a small evergreen tree of the species Theobroma cacao, which is cultivated for its seeds. Cocoa is descriptive of the powder made from the roasted, husked, and ground cacao seeds. Make sure “cacao or cocoa” appears on the label before “sugar” or any of its synonyms.
- Look for organic dark chocolate. Cocoa beans have some of the highest pesticide loads of any crop. Pesticides that are banned in the U.S. are often still widely used in other countries.
- Avoid “Dutch processed” or “alkalized” cocoa if you want greater health benefits. This means that it is highly processed; the beneficial antioxidants and flavonoids are greatly decreased compared to unprocessed cocoa.
- Milk chocolate contains pasteurized milk, lots of sugar, and a much lower percent of cocoa, which dampens its health benefits. The FDA requires a minimum of 10 percent cocoa in order to call it “chocolate” on the label; a Hershey’s bar contains about 11 percent alkalized cocoa.
- White chocolate contains cocoa butter, a by-product of the cocoa bean. It contains a high concentration of milk solids and sugar and none of the beneficial phytonutrients.
LIVE YOUNGER by letting yourself enjoy high quality chocolate that is as close to its original form as possible. There are lots of good brands. START SOMEWHERE today to read labels with confidence in order to get deliciousness that will both tickle your tastebuds as well as increase your vitality. You can do it. I will help you!