In today’s day and age it can be increasingly hard to know what to buy, what to look for, and what’s truly healthy. Sometimes the best way is to keep it simple and give yourself some guidelines to work by. The diet is always changing with the seasons, the palette, how we feel, and with personal preference. It’s something we refine through our lifestyle and experience.
Here’s 5 guidelines to go by when selecting your favorite chocolates.
– Processed Sugar Free: Chocolate is well known to balance blood pressure. However, processed sugars are known to increase blood pressure. So if you want the heart and vascular benefits of real chocolate, avoid the chocolate with high amounts of processed sugars. Opt for low amounts of mineral rich, unprocessed sugars with dark chocolate so you can enjoy the positive benefits of cacao.
– Cacao powder that has undergone Dutch processing: If you use cacao powder at all in baking or smoothies then try to get natural cacao powder. Level it up again and get organic and raw. Dutch processing is a process of alkalizing cacao to make the taste less bitter by ‘washing’ it with a potassium carbonate solution. This takes the cacao’s alkalinity from around 5/6 to 7, close to that of water. Natural cacao powder will have a more bitter, natural taste, whereas a Dutch process will have a sweeter, less strong taste. So get used to the delicious bitterness of natural cacao, that’s the medicine!
– Milk and Dairy free: It’s important to find a chocolate bar that’s milk and dairy free, the reason being that for the most part, a milk chocolate will contain far less chocolate than a dark chocolate bar. It’s the chocolate we’re going for, as it holds the anti-oxidant, mineral, and heart benefits. Also, often the milk and dairy used in chocolate is inorganic and sourced from factory farmed situations where the cows are pumped with anti-biotics and hormones, which of course is carried through to the milk they produce. All in all, if you want milk chocolate, try finding an organic or vegan milk chocolate.
– Raw Cacao: If you can, source a raw cacao. Raw cacao, if from a good source, hasn’t been heated over 105 degrees and retains all of the wonderful mood balancing and brain boosting neurotransmitters that raw cacao is so loved for. If you’ve never experienced it, try eating a conventional chocolate bar, then the next day, eat the same weight in raw chocolate and FEEL the profound difference. When it’s raw, it will contain many of the heat volatile nutrients and neurotransmitters in cacao such as tryptophan and PEA that truly make cacao ‘the food of the gods’.
– Fillers: Stay away from chocolates that contain unnecessary fillers. While these fillers may help the producers, as they are often less expensive than using real chocolate, they often won’t help the body. Frequent chocolate fillers are soy-lecithin, palm oils, ammonium phosphate and others. This is an increasing concern as the prices of bulk chocolate and chocolate production increases. Look for chocolate without any fillers.
When all of these factors are taken into account, you’ll likely be enjoying a dark chocolate bar, between 70% – 80% pure cacao.