Needing a chocolate fix is nothing new. Cacao beans, the beans used to make chocolate, have been around for a very long time. The beans were consumed by Mayan civilizations as early as 500 AD. They were later used by Aztecs to make a spicy, bitter drink. It was only in the 1800s that the Dutch invented the solid form of chocolate as we know it today. Chocolate has evolved a lot since those times. Today’s milk chocolate is loaded with sugar that has been proven to impact our health, but dark chocolate seems to have a better reputation. Although we hear it’s good for us, what are its benefits? Is all dark chocolate the same?
Why is Dark Chocolate Good For Us?
Dark chocolate contains flavanols, a polyphenol in cocoa. These micronutrients lower blood pressure, increase cognitive function, and protect our skin from ultraviolet rays. Some studies have also shown that consuming dark chocolate lowers the amount of food we eat afterward.
Which Brands of Dark Chocolate Should I Buy?
Chocolates labeled as “artisan” or “fine chocolate” aren’t necessarily better for you. What you want to find are the chocolate brands with higher percentages of cacao for more flavanols. In general, dark chocolate contains much more flavanols than milk chocolate. The real key is how the chocolate was processed. The method used to process the raw cacao bean determines the amount of flavanols in the chocolate. If you see the phrase, “processed with alkali” on the nutrition label, this means the chocolate was produced using a process called “ditching.” This process yields a lower flavanol content.
Some brands with high flavanol percentages include:
- Endangered Species
- Alter Eco
Godiva also now offers a dark chocolate that isn’t processed with alkali. Enjoy and Happy Valentine’s Day!
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