You might consider chocolate a guilty pleasure, but it doesn’t have to be. The type of chocolate you eat determines whether the chocolate is good or bad for you.
Many Americans have never eaten “true” chocolate. Most chocolate found in the supermarket or in specialty candy stores is processed and harmful for your body. Do not be fooled by price. I have seen many brands of expensive chocolate that are highly processed and loaded with toxic ingredients.
You can find processed chocolate in all sorts of candy, cakes and muffins, ice cream, cookies and more. When chocolate is processed with high temperatures and high pressure, it loses its health benefits. Processed chocolate is also loaded with sugar, oils and dairy that reverses any benefit the chocolate originally had and makes it highly addictive. I never recommend conventional chocolate.
The good news is there is a form of chocolate that is very good for you.
Chocolate comes from the cacao bean. The cacao bean is considered a superfood because of its rich antioxidant content. If the natural properties of the cacao bean are still intact in your chocolate, you can experience a wealth of benefits.
- Cacao is rich in flavanols, powerful antioxidants that help protect the body from disease-causing free radicals.
- The potent antioxidant content in cacao helps maintain healthy brain function.
- Cacao can help lower blood pressure.
- Cacao has been shown to help lower cholesterol.
- Studies show cacao can improve insulin resistance.
- A recent study shows eating an ounce and a half of cacao-rich chocolate every day for two weeks lowers stress hormone levels. Study participants placed in the “high anxiety” group also reported feeling less anxious after eating the chocolate.
- Cacao is associated with lower incidence of cardiovascular disease.
Choosing the Right Chocolate
To ensure you are treating yourself to the right kind of chocolate, look for a cacao content of 60% or more. It will usually specify the cacao percentage on the label. The sugar content should be very low (somewhere around 4 grams). It should be organic and contain no dairy ingredients. One to three ounces per day is okay. More than that can add unwanted calories to your diet.
Like the many who eat chocolate in its natural form, I hope you find it to be decadent and satisfying.