Dark chocolate might be bitter and even strange to someone with a sweet tooth, but it is also a lot healthier than milk chocolates and white chocolates. What percentage of cocoa qualifies as dark? How much milk and sugar do dark chocolates have? Are dark chocolates always expensive? Should you gift someone bitter chocolates when you are their friend? Can you have them as treats regularly? Can you have them after dinner or will they make you stay awake like coffee? These are a few questions everyone asks about chocolates, especially the darker versions.
What’s the secret of dark chocolates?
First, let us begin by saying that if you choose dark chocolates over milk and white ones from an assorted chocolate box, you are undoubtedly smart. The darker variants have lesser milk and sugar. They have fewer calories and a high concentration of various flavonoids. Flavonoids are a class of plant compounds (pigments) that act as secondary metabolites in the plant system. They are a group of anti-oxidants that have tons of health benefits. Currently, scientists have discovered over 4000 compounds belonging to the flavonoid family. Dark chocolates have a significant percentage of flavonoids with anti-oxidant properties.
Why are dark chocolates great for you?
Flavonoids are antioxidants that are capable of repairing cell damage and eliminating free radicals from the body. Some of the cocoa flavonoids have mood enhancing and memory jogging properties as well. Recent research also shows that the percentage of cocoa flavonoids in dark chocolates not only vary between two brands, but they can also vary between two batches of production. It is impossible to tell which batch or brand has more of these anti-oxidant compounds just by the taste or the color.
Bitter chocolate does not taste great, but the presence of the healthy compounds make them great for the weight watchers, and fitness enthusiasts. The best ethical dark chocolate producing companies have techniques in place to preserve as much natural goodness in the products as possible while producing their bars. Even then the flavonol content can vary between 90mg to 900mg per 100grams of chocolate.
How much chocolate should you eat every day?
The next obvious question is how much flavanol is good for the human body? Just because a compound is natural does not mean one can consume it without any limits. Even the most ubiquitous compounds found in nature can cause overdoses and side effects if one does not exercise caution. Research states that 200 mg per day of cocoa flavonol is ideal for human heart health. Several investigations have shown that people who consume chocolates in moderation every day have better health than those who do not eat chocolates or cocoa products at all. The key to good health with chocolate is finding the right balance. That is a difficult task since food labels do not carry an indication of flavonoid content at all. Sticking to one to two ounces every day is a safe bet.
Which chocolates have the most flavonoids?
Nonetheless, bittersweet chocolate and bitter chocolate have considerable amounts of these phytocompounds. White chocolate has none of it. According to research, most Swiss chocolatiers and some American ones ensure the preservation of flavonol in their products. You can find out more about the nutrient content by speaking with the brand representatives, going through research on specific brands, and reading the blog posts that focus on the nutritional value of the most popular chocolate brands in the market. It is true that a higher percentage of cocoa corresponds to a higher portion of antioxidants, but you should also keep in mind that the high percentage comes with more calories and saturated fat. Thus, if you are partial to chocolates with over 85% of cocoa content, always consume it in small quantities daily.
How do some chocolates have more nutritional value?
Natural chocolate makers manage to preserve a moderate quantity of flavonoids in their bars. Superior dark chocolates can come from cold manufacturing processes. Using natural chocolate making and cold manufacturing certain famous dark chocolate brands have managed to preserve between 87% and 100% of the flavonol content of cocoa. These chocolate products are nutritious, and they have lesser saturated fats compared to commercially processed bittersweet chocolates. The unprocessed chocolates have little to no added sugars or saturated fats. They are much healthier than the chocolate we get to buy at the grocery stores, supermarts, and confectioners. However, due to the high concentration of the active ingredients and due to the heavy bitter taste, most people find it easier to mix these in hot drinks or use them in baking.
How to overcome the bitter taste of dark chocolates?
Another way to enjoy the goodness of a high percentage of dark chocolate without adding processed sugars is by adding berries and power fruits. Whether it is sliced cashews or dried blueberries, you can add them to dark chocolates to enhance the flavor and the concentration of antioxidants. Some manufacturers blend acai berries and apricots to dark chocolates to preserve some of the cocoa nutrients and add some extra antioxidants. At the same time, the fruits can add complex flavors and textures, and give the chocolates an exotic spin. That is the modern way of creating a super tasty, super healthy, super-food. It is a bar that has the goodness of cocoa flavonol, vitamins, and calcium.
Next time, when you are out shopping for chocolates, check out the dark chocolate bars that come with additions like blueberries, strawberries, acai berries, apricot, kiwi and oranges. You will forever forget the lure of the semisweet chocolates and milk chocolates, which have little nutrition anyway. Once you taste these dark chocolate variants, you know that everything that is healthy in this world does not have to taste unpleasant. You can add dark chocolate to your daily breakfast as well. Add a cube to your morning smoothie or your bowl of cereals. There is no better way to add a healthy twist to your daily life than including a generous dose of chocolate. With the nutritional values of chocolate becoming popular every day, everyone in the world will want to embrace a healthy life. After all, who does not love chocolates!