If you’re trying to eat healthy and get a handle on your overall wellness, but still crave sweets, there is no better treat to choose than chocolate. If properly selected, dark chocolate provides a wide range of health benefits without overdoing it on the added sugar. Dark chocolate can be a great source of healthy fats, phenols, and flavonoids: this will help your body product more antioxidants, lower your blood sugar, and even reduce your risk of cancer.
It’s important to know the most important rules for choosing the healthiest dark chocolate available. With so many options, it’s difficult to know where to begin - so we have compiled a list of tips and tricks to help.
Look for Raw Cacao Beans or Raw Cacao Powder
You probably already know that dark chocolate is rich in antioxidants. It actually works by stimulating your body to produce antioxidants on its own. Chocolate that uses raw cacao beans or cacao powder contains plenty of phenols and other chemicals that stimulate your body’s natural production of free-radical fighting antioxidants; they also improve cellular detoxification, which removes toxins and other “extras” from your cells and body. Dark chocolate snaps our cells into defense mode, improving their ability to fight infections, decrease inflammation, and prevent cancer formation.
Check the Ratio of Fat and Fiber to Sugar
Try to aim for the lowest possible added sugar content with the highest amount of fat and highest amount of fiber. The fat in dark chocolate is equal parts stearic, palmitic, and oleic acid; these ingredients promote good levels of healthy fats and carbohydrates, helping you feel satisfied sooner and helping to maintain a healthy weight. Furthermore, the fiber in dark chocolate is easily broken down and fermented by our bodies into healthy, anticancer fats.
Choose Chocolate With the Fewest Ingredients
If you are on a quest to improve your diet, you probably already know the adage that you should avoid packaged foods with a long list of added ingredients. It’s important to know exactly what you are putting into your body: if you don’t recognize half of the ingredients in your chocolate bar, it’s not a good sign. Higher-quality products tend to contain fewer ingredients - and the ingredients it does contain will be recognizable. When it comes to chocolate, less is more; check the ingredients list on your chocolate packaging to determine what it contains.
Maximize the Dark Chocolate Percentage
The healthy benefits that dark chocolate offers comes from the chocolate itself, not the added sugar or any other ingredients. The more actual dark chocolate your selection contains, the more benefits you will receive. Our rule of thumb is to choose a chocolate bar that is 75% or more dark chocolate.
Quality Over Quantity
As a rule, chocolate of a higher quality will cost more than other options. If you have a choice between a $5 high-quality chocolate bar made of the best ingredients or a “family pack” of chocolate on sale for $5, you will certainly derive more health benefits from the high-quality bar. Choosing a better product will encourage you to control your portions and refrain from overindulging.
Choosing high-quality dark chocolate is a wonderful way to promote healthy nutritional practices - but, perhaps even more importantly, it is delicious. Indulging in the good stuff will boost your mood and add a bright spot to your day. Next time you’re shopping, use our tips to pick a high-quality sweet treat!