Chocolate! Even the word just melts on my tongue. Yes, it might contain sugar and vegetable oil, but it’s not all bad news. In fact, there are some major nutritional benefits in good-quality chocolate – and that’s your key – good-quality. Here are some reasons to add chocolate to your diet…what’s not to like?
Milk or dark – what’s the difference?
Milk chocolate is great as an occasional treat but it can contain as little as 25% cocoa solids. This means there’s more milk, sugar, fats and less nutritional benefits from the cocoa. By comparison, the cocoa solids in the dark stuff range from 70% to a whopping 100% However, anyone not used to dark chocolate should start at the 70% end. You’ll find it bitter at first but as your taste buds become accustomed to it you may find yourself looking for a stronger flavour.
What are the nutritional benefits of dark chocolate?
Restores flexibility to arteries
According to the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology dark chocolate prevents white blood cells from sticking to arterial walls – a known cause of atherosclerosis.
Reduces the risk of a stroke
Researchers in Finland have discovered that chocolate consumption can reduce the likelihood of a stroke by 17% based on their tests on a specific group of men.
Packed with minerals and can lower cholesterol
Dark chocolate contains iron, copper and manganese among other minerals beneficial to our health. It can also lower LDL cholesterol (the bad stuff) and may even improve brain function. Read this article by authority nutrition to find out more.
Ok I’m sold but how should I eat dark chocolate?
Allow a square to melt slowly on your tongue. If it melts too quickly this means it has too much cocoa butter. Chewing can also give you that acidic, bitter flavour so just leave it alone and let it do its thing which releases all the contrasting flavours. Soon you’ll be experimenting with excellent single-origin bars from good quality local chocolatiers.
What brands should I choose?
There are loads of great brands out there apart from the most obvious mainstream ones owned by global companies. If you’re concerned about fair trade and the impact on our environment always check the labels. Look for those which support a good deal for cocoa farmers and steer clear of bars containing palm oil unless you know it’s from certified sustainable sources. Click here to find out why. If you prefer organic products check with your local chocolatier or go for a brand such as Divine.