Valentine's Day is behind us and now everywhere we look, it's all about Easter! Another chocolate based occasion! Most of us love chocolate, but related to our “Eating Clean” and “cutting back on sugar” previous blogs, the subject of dark chocolate deserves some additional attention.
If you are not a fan of dark chocolate, or maybe you are, but don’t realize the true benefits of the real and whole food options out there, here is a bit of information that may spark some interest in this gem.
First, like anything, even healthy foods, quality and quantity is key. Read labels to see just what is in a dark chocolate treat to make sure you can pronounce and the items are actual foods.
Dark chocolate “treats” are meant to be savoured - melt in your mouth - by enjoying one or two squares each day, slowly. Add it to a time of day when you want to unwind, take a deep breath and get relaxed. Thinking of it as a “treat” in the way of supporting everyone’s need to just “be” for a moment. This is a huge benefit just all by itself if it can be a daily reminder to just slow down, take a deep breath and savour a moment.
The additional benefit is the nutrient based content. Look for bars with 70% or more of cacao. The higher the percentage, the more bitter it will be. If you are used to the very sweet taste of milk/sugar chocolate, this can take a bit of time to start to really taste the dark chocolate flavour - which is far more complex than the sweet and less healthy version.
The possible health benefits of dark chocolate are many:
When choosing your chocolate look for ingredient lists that look like this:
BITTERSWEET CHOCOLATE (UNSWEETENED CHOCOLATE, COCOA BUTTER, SUGAR, NATURAL VANILLA FLAVOR).
See! We know those ingredients! Those are food!
Cacao is the raw bean that comes from the Cacao plant. It is not heated or processed, so it is acidic and bitter and thus often slightly sweetened. Cocoa powder is the result of the cacao bean being roasted, husked and ground. So, cacao is the top of the beneficial chocolate group, then cocoa, which still has a number of benefits, just a bit less due to more processing, to the bottom and least beneficial is the milk/sugar chocolate commercial bars with long list of ingredients and additives.
Enjoy your chocolate - but choose wisely!