This article looks at the best dark chocolate brands. Chocolate is produced from roasted and ground cacao seeds. It can be of liquid, paste, or block form. It is one of the most popular food types and also used as a flavoring ingredient in other foods mainly desserts including cakes, pudding, mousse, chocolate brownies, and chocolate chip cookies.
Alcoholic drinks, cold and hot beverages also use chocolate, for example, chocolate milk and hot chocolate. There are several types of chocolate but this article is looking at dark chocolate and the best dark chocolate brands in particular.
What is dark chocolate?
Dark chocolate is made by adding fat and sugar to the cacao mixture. It is high in cocoa solids, which is the reason behind its bitterness. Dark chocolate is also called Semisweet chocolate or bittersweet chocolate depending on the amount of added sugar present. Semisweet chocolate has more sugar compared to bitter chocolate but the two are interchangeable in flavoring foods.
Dark chocolate is considered among the healthiest superfoods mainly because it naturally contains antioxidants. Research shows that dark chocolate has a greater antioxidant effect than many antioxidant fruits like blueberries and acai berries. Many studies have also linked the consumption of dark chocolate with a reduced risk of heart disease.
Is dark chocolate healthy?
Dark chocolate is nutrient-dense and it is one of the best sources of antioxidants. Research shows that dark chocolate has a variety of health benefits among others fighting cancer, lowering the risk of heart disease, and more.
What are the best dark chocolate brands?
There are many dark chocolate brands available on the market, with every brand fronting their products as the best on the market. It, therefore, becomes difficult for the consumer to choose the best brand and consequently the best dark chocolate.
All these brands are different based on the ingredients used and processing methods. Before we look at the different brands, let us first learn how best we can choose the best dark chocolate brands.
How do we choose the best dark chocolate brand?
The best criterion for choosing the best dark chocolate brand is to look at one with the least ingredients and carefully looking at the percentage of these ingredients.
When you’re choosing dark chocolate, look for bars that have a cocoa content of 70% or higher, and should be the first on the ingredient list. Higher cocoa % contains a higher concentration of antioxidants which are associated with several health benefits.
Choose chocolate made from fair-trade and organic cacao beans whenever possible. Choosing organic chocolate may also reduce your exposure to any artificial chemicals, or pesticides sprayed on the coffee beans.
Avoid dutch chocolate. Dutching is a chocolate processing method that involves treatment with alkali, otherwise known as alkalization. Studies have shown that Dutching significantly reduces the number of antioxidants in chocolate.
Choose brands with lower amounts of sugar. Lower amounts of sugar allow for more antioxidants and fiber to include in the chocolate bar. Also lower added sugar is healthy.
Pick on a dark chocolate brand without added milk. High-quality dark chocolate shouldn’t have any milk added to it.
Dark chocolate is normally flavored with spices for example vanilla. In case you want flavored dark chocolate, choose one that is organic to avoid artificial flavors that are linked to health risks.
Avoid dark chocolate with trans-fats. Although trans-fats increase the shelf life of most dark chocolate brands, the intake of Trans fats is a risk factor for heart disease according to research.
Below is a list of our top best dark chocolate brands according to the above guidelines.
1. Pascha Organic.
This is native to the USA. This company produces chocolate that is organic, Gluten-Free & Non-GMO, with no added sugar and free of emulsifiers.
One of their best product is Pascha Organic Sugar-Free Dark Chocolate Bars 100% Cacao
2. Green and black
This is a British chocolate company founded in 1991. The company produces a variety of organic food products such as chocolate bars, ice cream, biscuits, and hot chocolate. Its headquarters are in London, England.
One of their chocolate product is Green and black organic dark chocolate
3. Lindt and Sprungli
Simply known as Lindt, it is a Swiss chocolatier and confectionery founded in 1845 by David sprungli-Schwarz and Rudolf sprungli-Ammann. Lindt headquarters are found in Kilchberg, Switzerland. Lindt is commonly known for its chocolate truffles, chocolate bars, ice cream, and others.
One of its chocolate product is Lindt excellence bar
4. Equal Exchange
Equal Exchange is a for-profit Fairtrade worker-owned cooperative founded in 1986. It is the oldest and largest Fair Trade coffee company in the united states with its headquarters in West Bridgewater, Massachusetts. The company distributes organic gourmet coffee, tea, sugar, bananas, avocados, cocoa, and chocolate bars from farmer cooperatives in Latin America, Africa, and Asia.
one of its chocolate product is Equal exchange organic extreme dark chocolate bar
5. Raaka Chocolate
The word raaka means raw in Finnish. This is a company of a group of unserious people who take their chocolate seriously. The company is located at Red Hook, Brooklyn at 64 Seabring Street.
Raaka makes delicious, creative chocolate that showcases the wilder side of cacao and does so in a way that is environmentally and socially responsible.
It has Raaka Chocolate Bourbon Cask Aged as one of its best products
How much dark chocolate should I eat a day?
1 to 2 ounces or 30-60g is enough for a day. Anything more than that gives you more calories than what you should take. You should, therefore, eat dark chocolate in moderation and avoid replacing meals with dark chocolate.
What are the health benefits of dark chocolate?
Although dark chocolate is high in added sugar, which is said to have health risks such as diabetes, obesity, and more, It turns out that the health benefits of the antioxidants in dark chocolate overwhelmingly outweigh the downsides of added sugar at a moderate consumption.
The health benefits of dark chocolate include;
1. Dark chocolate is nutrient-dense
According to the study published in the journal Antioxidants & Redox Signalling, dark chocolate is high in cocoa content which is full of antioxidants. It also contains a good amount of fiber and minerals. The minerals present include; copper, manganese, potassium, phosphorus, zinc, iron, magnesium, and selenium.
2. Skin health
Studies show that eating dark chocolate can significantly protect the skin from UV light. This is due to the antioxidant property of dark chocolate. Also, the nutrients in dark chocolate are beneficial to the skin. Manganese for example plays a big role in the production of collagen, a protein that keeps the skin young and healthy.
3. Cancer prevention
Excess free radicals attack the body cells and this may lead to diseases like cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, and heart disease. The antioxidants in dark chocolate protect our cells from damage caused by free radicals
4. Digestive health
The article published in the journal Frontiers in Pharmacology showed that chocolate behaves like a prebiotic, a type of fiber that encourages the growth of good bacteria in the gut. When the gut has plenty of good bacteria, it efficiently absorbs nutrients and a healthy metabolism.
5. Dark chocolate helps weight loss
Dark chocolate plays an important role in controlling appetite hence reduces frequent food intake. Eating dark chocolate before or after meals triggers hormones that signal to the brain you’re full. The reduction of calorie intake is related to weight loss.
Learn more about dark chocolate and weight loss from our article here.
6. Dark chocolate can improve blood sugar levels and reduce the risk of diabetes
Moderate amounts of dark chocolate rich in cocoa content can improve how the body breaks down glucose. According to a study published in the Journal of Community and Hospital Internal Medicine, it was established that flavonoids in dark chocolate can reduce oxidative stress which is the number one cause of insulin resistance.
7. Improves brain function
Dark chocolate increases blood flow which improves brain function. Also, dark chocolate is rich in stimulants like caffeine and theobromine for which research has shown to improve brain function.
8. Reduces heart disease risk
Research shows that eating dark chocolate two or more times per week can lower the risk of having calcified plaque in the arteries by 32%. All this results in a low risk of heart disease.
What are the side effects of dark chocolate?
Dark chocolate has higher amounts of caffeine compared to both milk chocolate and white chocolate. Eating large amounts therefore can lead to caffeine-related side effects such as increased heart rate, diarrhea, anxiety, irritability, nervousness, and dehydration.
Although caffeine has downsides, it also has health benefits. learn more about the health benefits here.
2. Kidney stones
Dark chocolate may increase the risk of having kidney stones. Dark chocolate has oxalates that can stick to one another forming large crystals known as kidney stones. If you have had kidney stones in the past, then you need to avoid dark chocolate since it contains oxalate.
3. Added sugar
Dark chocolate contains saturated fat and sugar. Fat and sugar consumption are related to increased risk factors for cardiovascular disease and obesity.
4. Migraine headaches.
Dark chocolate contains tyramine which triggers migraine headaches. Also, high blood sugar or hyperglycemia can trigger migraine headaches.
When choosing the best dark chocolate brand, pick on a brand that contains 70% and higher cocoa content, from fair-trade and organic cacao beans, lower amounts of sugar, without added milk, without trans-fats, and avoid chocolate with alkali.
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