Dark and divine. Ditch the milk chocolate and come over to the dark side.
Usually when we hear the word “chocolate” one immediately thinks of a naughty little sweet treat, but when talking about dark chocolate you actually have a secret health food on your hands.
It also goes by other common names, including bittersweet and semisweet chocolate, but no matter what you call it, dark chocolate is loaded with nutrients that can positively affect your health, making it one of the best tasting foods while still being healthy.
Darker chocolate is produced by adding fat and sugar to cocoa. It differs from milk chocolate in that it contains little to no milk solids. Usually the simplest way to know if your chocolate is “dark” or not is to select one with a 70% or higher total cocoa content. Studies show that dark chocolate, not the sugary rubbish, can improve your health and lower the risk of heart disease. Dark chocolate is well known for its powerful antioxidant activity. In fact, it has been shown to have a greater antioxidant effect than many high-antioxidant fruits like blueberries and acai berries. Some studies have even linked eating this type of chocolate with a reduced risk of heart disease and improved brain function.
It is loaded with organic compounds that function as antioxidants. In the long term, antioxidants cause much less cholesterol to lodge in the arteries, resulting in a lower risk of heart disease. In fact, in one study of 470 elderly men, cocoa was found to reduce the risk of death from heart disease by a whopping 50% over a 15 year period. And it’s not just good for you on the inside but on the outside too – bioactive compounds in dark chocolate are great for your skin. These Flavonols can protect against sun damage, improve blood flow to the skin and increase skin density and hydration so if you’re planning a beach trip any time soon make sure to stock up on some dark choccies.
With so many brands on the market finding a true dark chocolate can be tricky. Some are better than others so which one should you choose? Dark chocolate brands have a wide range of cocoa percentages, which can be confusing. When you’re choosing dark chocolate, look for bars that have a cocoa content of 70% or higher. Higher-percentage dark chocolate will have a higher concentration of antioxidants and nutrients compared to chocolate with a lower cocoa percentage.
Keep it simple – choose one that is made with as few ingredients as possible. The best dark chocolate always has chocolate liquor or cocoa listed as the first ingredient. There may be several forms of cocoa listed, such as cocoa powder, cocoa nibs and cocoa butter. All of these are acceptable additions to dark chocolate so long at they are cocoa ingredients and not extra additives. Avoid any chocolate that has trans fat in it. Check the ingredients list. If hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oil is present, that means the bar contains trans fat.
Overall, it’s understandable why we love any and all chocolate but now you know why dark chocolate should jump to the top of your snack list. Dark chocolate is rich in nutrients and contains thousands of compounds that help to protect our health. Last but not least, it tastes amazing. Happy munching chocoholics.