Chocolate Ain’t So Bad…

Happy Tuesday HEALers!  Today’s Nutrition Tip Tuesday is a fun topic, and one that is likely near and dear to your hearts: chocolate! If you saw my Instagram last week, you would have seen that I went on a chocolate farm tour in Hawaii!  I was STOKED, as I am certainly a chocolate lover! (I guess this is obvious based on all the desserts I’ve posted: chocolate molten lava cake, raw brownies, raspberry brownie bites).

The tour was amazing! It was at Steelgrass Farms in Kauai, and not only did we taste 11, yes 11, different types of dark chocolate, but we also tasted a ton of tropical fruits native to Hawaii.  Here’s a picture of the cacao tree, the cacao pod, and the pure cacao beans.

I think there’s a misconception about chocolate and whether or not it’s good for you, so I’d like to clear that up today!  Plus, with the Holidays fast approaching, this will give you a good idea of what kind of chocolate to get as gifts for your loved ones.

Health Benefits of Dark Chocolate:

  • Antioxidant: A study here showed that cacao had higher antioxidant values than blueberries or acai berries!
  • Magnesium: Ever wonder why girls sometimes crave chocolate around that time of the month? Chocolate is an excellent source of magnesium, which is a muscle relaxant, therefore helping ease the possible cramps associated with menstruating.
  • Flavanoids: There are multiple studies showing that the flavanoids in dark chocolate can help lower blood pressure and risk of heart disease.  A couple of those studies are quoted here.

Understanding the Label:

When I’m talking chocolate, I am talking DARK chocolate that is 60% cacao or more (ideally 70% or more).  I’m also talking about the chocolate that has minimal ingredients: 3-4 at best.  Here is what to look for:

  • Cacao (paste, liquor, mass)
  • Cacao butter
  • Cane juice/sugar

Often there are extra ingredients to give it some flavour.  If that’s the case, you want to make sure it’s the pure ingredient, not “natural or artificial” flavouring.  Good examples include:

  • Pure vanilla extract/beans
  • Peppermint
  • Coconut
  • Almonds

You want to avoid chocolate with milk products, and artificial colour/flavours or other additives, as you then lose a lot of the health benefits of chocolate.

Brands of Chocolate I’d Recommend:

So there you have it!  Chocolate ain’t all bad, so go ahead and indulge a little! 🙂 What are your favourite brands of healthy dark chocolate?

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