Melting chocolate in a pot
Chocolate is a superfood that is both delicious and nutritious: the perfect combination! It can provide you with a source of nutrients that will benefit your health if you choose the right one. To take advantage of the health benefits in chocolate, it is important to look at the cacao content and to read the ingredients of the product. Chocolate with added sugar, milk products and other additives will reduce the amount of minerals and antioxidants that natural chocolate can provide.
Cacao and Flavanols
Chocolate is derived from the cacao bean, which also produces cocoa. Cacao contains flavanols, which numerous health and nutrition studies have connected to lower blood pressure, better cognitive performance, and protection of skin from ultraviolet rays. Participants in one study reported that dark chocolate even reduced their cravings for junk foods because people found it so satisfying.
To find the healthiest chocolates, you’ll need to check for specific information on the label. Follow these five tips to help you choose the best chocolate:
- High Cacao Content: Cacao must be the first ingredient listed and form at least 60 to 70 percent of the bar’s content. Dark chocolate bars often prominently display the cacao percentage on wrappers. Other acceptable terms that you might see as this first vital ingredient are cocoa butter, cocoa liquor, cocoa powder, or cocoa nibs.
- Low Sugar Content: Sugar tempers the bitterness of cacao, but it should not be the first ingredient. Ideally, the sugar will be the last ingredient listed.
- No Dutch Processing: The statements “Dutch,” “Dutching,” or “processed with alkali” indicate a bar devoid of health benefits. Producers use alkalization to reduce bitterness and lighten the colour. However, during this process, the healthy flavanols are depleted.
- No Trans Fat: Chocolate bar manufacturers may add trans fat to extend shelf life and create a smoother consistency. Trans fat, unfortunately, contributes to heart disease. If you see hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oil on a label, the chocolate contains unhealthy fats.
- Consider the Additives: Some but not all chocolates contain lecithin or flavourings. Lecithin, typically made from soy, aids in the blending of cocoa and cocoa butter. Flavourings might be derived from natural or artificial products. If you’re concerned about the origin of additives, choose a bar with organic certification. The trace quantities of these additives in bars do not reduce the nutritional quality of the cacao.
Famous Foods in Vancouver has a selection of high-quality chocolates, including organic and fair trade brands. You’ll find an assortment of dark chocolates that are raw, sweetened naturally, gluten-free and GMO-free.