Top 5 tips for choosing Healthy Chocolate

“ All you need is love. But a little chocolate now and then doesn’t hurt.”

Charles M. Shulz

It is always nice to know that a favorite food imparts health benefits, however not all chocolate is created equal – so here is what to look for:

1) At least 70 percent cocoa mass

  • chocolate is made from beans of the cacao tree which contain impressive phytochemicals known as polyphenols which imparts antioxidant properties
  • a small square of dark chocolate contains twice the polyphenol content of a glass of red wine and about as much as a cup of green tea

2) Real Chocolate versus Chocolate Candy

  • The fat in chocolate should be in the form of cocoa butter NOT fillers such as; oil of palm, coconut oil, hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated fats in poorer quality chocolate the cocoa butter is removed and replaced with these cheaper unhealthy fats/oils
  • Stearic acid, the main fatty acid in cocoa butter although saturated, has neutral effect on cholesterol

3) The first ingredient should be Cocoa also known as Cocoa Liquor, Cocoa Mass or Cake NOT sugar

  • steer clear of those with natural flavors, hydrogenated oils, soy lecithin, emulsifiers, and preservatives
  • when dairy products are added to chocolate this adds extra fat and inhibits the body’s absorption of the powerful antioxidants

4) Avoid Chocolate which has been Dutch Processed (treatment of the cocoa powder with alkaline salts to reduce the bitter taste) removes many of the antioxidants

  • most healthful is raw chocolate if you can find it

5) Look for Fair Trade and Organic

  • Organic Chocolate does not contain any chemicals from fertilizers or toxins from pesticides
  • Fair Trade is your best option when it comes to buying chocolate that is slavery-free, it also provides the best guarantee that a significant portion of the money you spend will go towards improving the communities where the cocoa was produced

For more information on free trade chocolate see CNN Freedom Project.

Remember to Savor: A daily consumption of 1and 1/2 oz that is 70% cocoa mass

  • even though healthy, calories can still add up quickly

Health Benefits of Chocolate:

  • reduce risk of blood clots
  • decreases oxidation of LDL (bad) cholesterol
  • may lower high blood pressure
  • improvement mood and cognition
  • suspected to play a role in cancer prevention