It's national chocolate day!
Choc. O. Late.
Raise your hand if you love chocolate. What's not to love?! There are SO many ways to enjoy it. Hot chocolate. Chocolate bars. Chocolate kiss. Chocolate chips. Chocolate sauce. Chocolate covered pretty-much-anything. Dark chocolate, white chocolate, milk chocolate. There's a chocolate for every occasion. It speaks to us, or for us, it can say, I love you, I'm sorry, be mine, happy birthday. We indulge in it. We savor it. We bake with it. We sneak it. We share it.
But what do you really know about the chocolate you're eating?
Here's the thing: good, quality chocolate is the key. There are many studies that confirm the rich concentrations of health-boosting antioxidants and polyphenols in dark chocolate. The reason dark chocolate has the edge is because it contains a higher concentration of cacao seeds than milk chocolate.
The trick is finding a chocolate that has been minimally processed, but still tastes yummy. The processed chocolates that are on store shelves don't contain the health benefits, but do contain a lot of sugar and chemicals. Yep, pretty much all of our childhood favorites are unhealthy.
We'll get the most nutritional value by looking for higher cacao and lower sugar content. Essentially, the darker the chocolate, the higher the cacao. This also means the more bitter it will taste. The flavanols are what make the chocolate bitter, so manufacturers often remove them. That's why chocolate is sweetened: to counteract the bitterness.
Here's the catch: those flavanols are where many of chocolate's health benefits come from. When choosing our chocolate, we have to balance nutritional benefit with palatability. Right? Right. Here's the bottom line:
- Raw Cacao is best - but bitter. However, if you like it, choose it.
- Milk chocolate isn't a good choice (sorry, Hershey kisses) because it has a LOT of sugar and pasteurized milk (these lessen the health benefits)
- White chocolate is high in sugar and does not contain any phytonutrients, so it's not a good choice either. (I've always wondered why white chocolate is even considered chocolate?)
- Dark chocolate (70% cacao or more) is the way to go.
As you celebrate National Chocolate Day, skip the card for your honey and give the gift that says you care: dark chocolate! :)
Health & Wellness Coach