Dark chocolate is one thing we should be eating because it is so terrifically good for us. Hopefully, no one is disgusted with dark chocolate.
Epicatechin, a compound found in unrefined cocoa, is just one of the powerhouse compounds that makes dark chocolate good for you, according to Norman Hollenberg, professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, who has spent years studying the effects of routine cocoa drinking on the Kuna people of Panama. The Kuna, who drink up to 40 cups of cocoa a week, have a less than 10 percent risk of stroke, heart failure, cancer and diabetes.
Unfortunately, epicatechin is removed from commercial, processed cocoas because it tends to have a bitter taste.
Only dark chocolate is healthy – 80% cacao content and above, where epicatechin is more concentrated, has real health benefits. Definitely not milk chocolate, definitely not white chocolate, nor any combination in between.
Dark chocolate is amazing stuff. It looks like polished mahogany. And the aroma is intensely wonderful. I detect hints of honey. There’s also raisins, and a delightful soft, earthy note. Of course, it’s rich and perfect and melts into a velvety perfection.
So what about the flavor? The whole of one’s mouth is filled with the utterly smooth texture with wisps of chocolaty vapor. Dark chocolate tastes out of this world.
Dark Chocolate’s Health Benefits
I’ve discovered how cacao and cocoa are different. Here’s a recap of why we should be consuming high-percentage cacao dark chocolate in moderation in our diet:
Protects against pre-eclampsia in pregnant women
Anti-inflammatory (including 17 percent reduction in C-reactive protein)
Lowers Alzheimer’s risk
Improves gastrointestinal flora
Anti-diabetic and anti-obesity
Slows progression of periodontitis
Improves exercise endurance
Reduces stress hormones
Improved liver function for those with cirrhosis
Dark chocolate is a perfect example of when less is more. According to Dr. Mercola, researchers found that eating a precise amount of minimally processed dark chocolate – about 7 grams a day – will give you the best health benefits, and it should be organic so it doesn’t contain the high amounts of lead that are in conventional chocolates. Eat much more than this, and the beneficial effects will diminish and even disappear.
We’re talking about a very moderate amount here if you’re using (enjoying) chocolate for health purposes.
So Little Cost
This is the one of the bars that I chose as I shopped last week:
Chocolove 77% Dark Chocolate at $2.99 with 10 fairly-thick squares at 9 grams each. That comes up to only 15 cents per day, eating half a block a day for for 20 days. That definitely won’t break the bank. I will be breaking them in half to stay under the 6.7 grams a day, but you can play around with the amount each day.
Find them at Whole Foods, Fresh Market, health food stores, and Amazon online.
Mark’s Daily Apple in his article The 5 Best Dark Chocolate Bars in the World recommends this as an introductory dark chocolate for beginners. He says, “If you’re trying to wean yourself off of milk chocolate, go with the Chocolove XOXOX. You get the unmistakable flavor and light sugar content of a high-cacao bar with the creaminess and accessibility of a lesser-cacao bar.
Chocolove info for the discerning consumer:
Sugar – Beet Sugar (non-GMO)
Organic – 2 Varieties of Organic Dark Chocolate, other varieties may not be organic
Stance on GMOs – All ingredients are non-GMO
Social Responsibility – Supports World Cocoa Federation with policy not to purchase from firms that support or reinforce exploitative labor or child labor practices.
Emulsifiers – Organic Chocolate line is free from emulsifiers, other varieties contain soy lecithin (non-GMO)
Unique Factor – Charming, affordable chocolates from a Colorado company many unusual combinations of flavors.
Parent Company – Chocolove.
Availability –Widely available in most health food stores and even in stores like Target. You may also purchase Chocolove products online. (source for brand by brand analysis)
I keep these on hand for those times where I just want a bit of sweetness without the commitment required by the heavy darks. It tastes a bit like coconut.
Most likely, you don’t need your arm twisted to get you to consume dark chocolate regularly for health reasons. Maybe you will even text your husband to pick you up a couple of bars for the next several weeks!
Will you join me in developing a taste for the very dark chocolates, just a little bit every day?
Thanks for reading!