“Chocolate. It’s what’s for Dinner”. Okay, some wishful thinking there, but I’m sure many of you have heard that this plant-derived treat can be a healthier way to satisfy a sweet-tooth. Antioxidants known as flavonols are inherent in the cocoa bean (along with many other plants) and can influence certain health benefits like lowering blood pressure. The key though is to make it “dark” chocolate, and here is where the confusion begins. Since there is no real regulation on labeling for dark chocolate, many of the big name food conglomerates have put out versions of “dark” chocolate that not only miss the mark from a health perspective, but are nowhere as near as tasty and satisfying as the real thing.
So like any plant-based food, the less processed, the healthier. Stick with high-quality brands with a short ingredients list (think Endangered Species, Theo, Green & Black, Sweet Riot) and stay away from any “dark” chocolate that shows chocolate processed with alkali as an ingredient. This process, also knows as “dutch process” takes away the bitterness of the cocoa at the same time stripping away the flavonols. Think Dove Dark Chocolate, Hershey Special Dark Chocolate, and really, any dark chocolate that lists “sugar” as the first ingredient.
If you can start at 70% dark chocolate and make your way up the percentage chart, that’s great, but if you are a real milk-chocolate die-hard, it’s okay to start with a 60%-65% for example and train your palate to appreciate the taste before going up to the next level. Just remember, like any treat, moderation is key; a square or two will do just fine, and with the full-bodied taste of dark chocolate you’ll find that that is all you will really need!
April 13, 2015