Dark chocolate: once considered a rare treat is now mainstream. It’s become the acceptable snack for wannabe healthy eaters.
For good reason. It feels decadent, tastes great, and has researched healthy benefits (1) (2) (3). One small study showed participants ate less junk food after eating dark chocolate. This did not happen with milk chocolate.
There’s something about dark chocolate that makes you carefully indulge a piece or two. Compared to milk chocolate when I would eat half a pack before I knew it.
Research points to flavanols – substances that help lower blood pressure and improve vascular function, improve cognitive function , and even provides UV protection for our skin! Dark chocolate has a higher proportion of flavanols than milk chocolate.
A higher percentage of cacao (cocoa) means a higher amount of flavanols.
Warning: Lookout for Dutching
The method used to process the raw cacao bean can affect the amount of flavanols in the end product.
How to Choose the Best Chocolate
There are dozens of boutique chocolate brands out there. If in doubt, use the following guide.
A true dark chocolate will never have sugar listed first in the ingredients. It should always be below the cocoa ingredients.
It should also tick as many of the following points:
- 100% Organic
Note that “organic” does not equal 100% organic (confusing!).
- Fair Trade
- > 70% cocoa
- Not processed with alkali
Also, note that some manufacturers use GMO (genetically modified) ingredients (this is usually the soy lecithin). Soy Lecithin is a byproduct of processed soy beans and is used an emulsifier (prevents water and fat from separating).
Can You Eat 99% ?
During a trip to Thailand I stumbled across a Lindt 99% bar. I knew they made them but had never seen anyone stock them.
Like Charlie looking for his golden ticket, I had to buy it.
It actually had a golden wrapper inside.
The taste? Hardcore. I’m a seasoned dark chocolate eater, but this was tough. It reminded me how bitter the cacao fruit is. It only really worked when I ate while drinking black coffee.
Anyone else up to the challenge?