Healthy Chocolate Health Tips
Science now confirms that chocolate is healthy. Doctors are proving that chocolate is healthy through clinical trials and research. The word is spreading; From radio to television to the Internet, doctors now confirm that chocolate has numerous health benefits, both physically and emotionally. So how do we know which chocolate is really healthy and good for us? Here are some healthy chocolate tips to help you find the right chocolate for you.
More and more people are drawn to eating chocolate for its health benefits. With nine out of ten people loving chocolate and one in two eating it every day, this is good news. What do we want to look for in a healthy chocolate? First, the more raw cocoa powder a chocolate contains, the more flavonoids (plant-based antioxidants) are present.
It is best to look for a chocolate with at least 70% raw cocoa. Second, it must be a raw food chocolate. When chocolate is heated above one hundred degrees Fahrenheit, most of the nutritional properties of the antioxidants are destroyed, leaving it devoid of the precious nutrients sought in the first place. Look for a chocolate that has low-glycemic sweeteners, such as unrefined cane sugar, instead of refined sugar. Low-glycemic chocolates are diabetic-friendly and won’t leave you feeling “down” due to the high blood sugar spikes associated with refined sugars.
Not all chocolate is created equal. Another important point to consider when choosing a healthy chocolate is the ORAC rating. ORAC stands for Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity, which is a measure of antioxidants’ ability to eradicate disease-causing agents (free radicals). Some chocolate producers have ORAC ratings on their products, which guarantees antioxidant efficacy. A company called Brunswick Labs tests a variety of foods for antioxidants, including chocolate, and gives them a certified score. The higher the ORAC score, the more antioxidants a food contains, therefore the healthier it is for the body.
Not all dark chocolate is healthy for the body. Many people believe that if a chocolate has a high percentage of dark chocolate, it automatically has a high antioxidant content. However, most chocolate is left to settle (alkalized, to modify flavor and color) and roasted during processing. Dutching and heating destroy antioxidants and their ability to eradicate free radicals. It’s also common for dark chocolate to be full of refined sugars, caffeine, waxes, and unhealthy fillers, which are well known to contribute to adverse health effects.
Chocolate that is considered healthy has certain characteristics. One must consider where the cocoa beans come from. Cocoa beans harvested under tougher, harsher conditions are more potent and rich in polyphenols (antioxidants). It is also important to know what the growing conditions are and what type of farms the beans are grown on. Cacao trees grown alongside other fruit trees often produce softer beans.
A privately controlled natural environment is best for growing beans without the use of pesticides. Another point to take into account are the fillings and fats. Chocolate rich in healthy fats such as cocoa butter and omega fatty acids are beneficial to the body. Avoid chocolate with milk fats or hydrogenated oils…bad fats. It is also of great importance to know that not all chocolate contains caffeine, although caffeine is often associated with chocolate, it is not a natural ingredient. Caffeine is usually added to commercial chocolates.
Eating the right chocolate on a consistent basis can be a huge benefit to your health. Knowing the ingredients, processing methods, ORAC ratings, and growing conditions can enhance your chocolate choices and experiences.
The bottom line; Yes, you CAN have your chocolate and EAT it too!