Summary: We love dark chocolate and in this post we talk about the difference between various chocolates and why the dark and bitter is our winner!
Dark chocolate is good for you! Is it?
I am not overly crazy about chocolate, but in the past once in a while I enjoyed the taste of some good quality milk chocolate. I’ve gracioulsy ignored all the comments about milk chocolate being unhealthy until when day. Than I decided that actually dark chocolate was in, and milk chocolate was out of my life. Not sure what has changed in my taste, but from that time onwards happily munched on a square or two of dark chocolate after my lunch. I felt good about it too, because you hear about dark chocolate being a healthy option and all those benefits it has compared to the mile version.
The cocoa tree is native to the Americas; originates from Central America and Mexico. Cocoa trees only grow about 20° to the north and south of the Equator. Cocoa bean was used as a currency throughout Mesoamerica before the Spanish conquest. The cocoa bean, also called cacao bean, cocoa, or cacao, is the dried and fermented seed of Theobroma cacao. Cocoa solids and cocoa butter are extracted from this plant and the chocolate is extracted from the beans.
Main varieties of cocoa plant:
- Forastero: comprising around 80-90% of the world cocoa production.
- Criollo: a rare delicacy
- Trinitario: a hybrid between Criollo and Forastero varieties. It is much higher quality than Forastero, and is also more resistant to disease than Criollo.
Benefits of dark chocolate
- Antioxidant-rich superfood
- Improves heart health
- Reduces cholesterol
- Improves cognitive function
- Regulates blood pressure
- May helps to prevent cancer
- Protection from free radicals
- Slows down aging. According to Dr. JoAnn Manson, Chief, Division of Preventive Medicine, Harvard affiliated Brigham and Women’s Hospital, “Flavanols are one of the most promising and exciting nutritional interventions available for helping to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, and a large-scale randomized trial is the next logical step in testing their effectiveness”.
We are sold on dark chocolate! What’s the problem?
Well, there is a difference between dark chocolate and dark chocolate. This difference is most obvious in the chocolate’s sugar and fat content (not to talk about preservatives too). Dark chocolate with low sugar content is bitter. Some like the taste and some don’t. If you do like that bitter taste, you are on a good track to reap all the above mentioned health benefits. if you prefer a less bitter, smoother taste, than you are back to square one – almost the same as eating milk chocolate. Because the smooth and soft taste contains a much higher amount of sugar.
How to choose the healthy kind of dark chocolate:
- Well, obviously as a first step, choose dark chocolate and not the white one, which contains cocoa butter, milk and sugar, but no cocoa solids.
- Choose dark chocolate with low sugar content (and get used to the bitter taste. I assure you, it is possible. These days I enjoy that bitter taste much more than the sweeter versions of dark or milk chocolates)
- Choose high coca content chocolate – the higher the better, go for 80-90% or even try the 100% although I admit that version is not for everyone.
- Check your labels before you buy. There are lots of dark chocolate brands on the market, but many of them has a very high sugar content. Avoid the ones that have various flavoring, preservatives, and high sugar or sweetener content.
The Mighty Templars are on the hunt for the best recipes with dark chocolate. If you have a favorite, send it to us and we might surprise you with featuring you and your dish in one of our upcoming blogs. How cool is that!?