And let me tell you, it was rough going – testing out all this chocolate – the things I do for you, right?
Without a doubt, dark chocolate is your best bet. And by dark chocolate, I’m talking about chocolate labeled at least 70% dark. Any less and the benefits start to diminish.
Most people have a preference dark versus milk, but even if you prefer milk chocolate you can learn to love dark too – the taste is definitely more bitter, but it is still sweet and satisfying. Just start with 60% dark, move to 65%, then 70%, etc. Eventually, you’ll enjoy it all.
The biggest differences between dark and milk chocolate are that dark chocolate contains more cocoa (and milk typically contains milk or milk products). Pretty simple. Some of the benefits of dark chocolate:
- can lower blood pressure
- full of antioxidants (which gobble up free radicals in your body)
- contains flavonoids (epicatechin specifically) which help keep cholesterol from gathering in your blood vessels)
- tastes heavenly
Knowing that dark chocolate is best, what should a quality bar contain? The best brands simply contain cocoa and some form of sweetener.
Many brands also contain an ingredient called soy lecithin. Soy lecithin is an emulsifier (a by-product of soybean oil) often added to chocolate to help the cocoa and the cocoa butter stick together. Is it bad? Well, if you can avoid it, I’d recommend you do because:
- Solvents are used during the process of creating soy lecithin, so it is possible the resulting product will contain chemical solvents
- If the quality of soybeans used are not organic, you can assume herbicide and pesticide traces will be included
- Soy is very frequently a GMO product (so check for Non-GMO).
- Many people have soy allergies
Luckily, there are quite a few delicious brands available without soy lecithin, Fair Trade, and organic that taste heavenly. Are they more expensive? Probably, but you’ll consume a lot less at a time. I’ve found one bar can easily last me a week – a bite or two is all I want or need at a time with a bar of quality dark chocolate. Plus, hard to put a price on good health, isn’t it?
I ran over to my local grocery store and spent a few minutes reading the labels – I found four brands that fit the bill (no soy lecithin, organic and Fair Trade). They all tasted yummy, but Theo was probably my personal favorite! I encourage you to do your own shopping research and each week try a new healthier brand until you find the perfect one for you – then you can stock up when they go on sale!
Throughout the month, I’ll be sharing recipes using dark chocolate, but for now here are some tasty and quick chocolate treats: Chocolate and Fruit Two Ways
Do you like dark chocolate? How do you enjoy it?
Chocolate is definitely one of my favorite things – check out more of them HERE.