15 Feb Do you love Chocolate?
I do! I think chocolate should have its very own food group. It’s comforting, creamy and delicious. Many of us eat chocolate at least several times a week or even every day!
Which begs the question…
Is Chocolate Good for You?
The answer is both yes and no.
Chocolate has been used for centuries to treat bronchitis, fatigue, hangovers, anemia, depression, memory loss, high blood pressure, sexual malaise, poor eyesight, and more. It also helps release that feel-good neurotransmitter – serotonin – in the brain.
But eat the wrong kind and you’ll get loads of sugar, calories, and junky ingredients.
How to Eat Chocolate Responsibly
Chocolate begins life as raw cacao (pronounced kah-kow) beans. Loaded with antioxidants, minerals, vitamins, and plant phenols, cacao is a powerful superfood. In fact, it’s considered the #1 antioxidant in the world (according to David Wolfe). The more processed cacao becomes, however – think commercially produced candy bars – the fewer healthy components remain.
So how to get the most out of your chocolate fix?
- Don’t be afraid of the dark. The darker the chocolate, the more beneficial cacao it contains and the less sugar! It may have a higher fat percentage, but the fat contains stearic acid, which doesn’t affect cholesterol levels.
- Know your percentages. The number on dark chocolate packaging refers to the percentage of cacao beans in chocolate. For maximum health benefit, look for dark chocolate that has 75% cacao or higher.
- Go raw and organic. Cacao beans are one of the most highly pesticide sprayed crops, so going organic will lessen your exposure to pesticides. And, the less processed the chocolate, the more antioxidants, minerals and vitamins it will contain.
- Read the label. If it contains a lot of sugar and additives like soy lecithin, then choose another!
Here are a few of my favorite chocolates which are “organic” and “fair trade”. They can be found at Whole Foods, Health Food stores and online.
- Alter Ego -All products are produced without pesticides and emulsifiers. They are certified organic and GMO free. They are committed to using the cleanest, wholesome, traditional and delicious ingredients for their products. The dark blackout bar has 5 grams of fiber, 6 grams of sugar and 3 grams of protein!
- Righteously Raw – All products are certified to be Organic, Kosher, Vegan, Non-GMO and Gluten Free. They are hand made products entirely from raw, high frequency foods and retain their raw state throughout the entire process, from raw ingredients to finished product. No refined sugars are used.
A few others that I use, which are not organic, but contain only a few ingredients and are more easily found:
- Enjoy Life Dark Chocolate Morsels – free of the most common 8 allergens (wheat/gluten, dairy, peanuts, tree nuts, egg, soy, fish and shellfish) and have only 2 ingredients – unsweetened chocolate and cane sugar (better than ‘sugar’ since it’s not a GMO product).
- Dark Chocolate Honey Mints by Trader Joes – these mints have 3 ingredients – honey, chocolate liquor & peppermint oil – and are a healthier Peppermint Patty.Remember – These products have honey and cane sugar – so they are not ‘health foods’ and should be consumed sparingly and savored as a treat!If you aren’t ready to go all dark, why not start with a 55% cacao bar and slowly move up to 75% or higher. You’ll find that you don’t need as much to satisfy your chocolate craving!