There are many chocolate flavors on the market today and this gives you a wide range of options to choose from. These among others include; Dark chocolate, milk chocolate, bitter chocolate, white bars, raw chocolate, and more. The list is just endless. But which kind of chocolate is healthiest?
With chocolate, health is the number one factor one should look at before picking on any bar. Choosing wrong foods can increase the risk of weight gain, diseases, allergies, and fatal diseases such as cancers. Before looking at the healthiest chocolate, let us first learn what chocolate is.
What is chocolate?
Chocolate is plant-based and made from the fruit of Theobroma cacao trees which are natives to Amazon and Orinoco river basins in South America. The cacao trees produce fruits that carry about 40-60 sour seeds covered in a white pulp. It is these seeds that are taken through processes of fermentation, drying, roasting, crushing, and grinding to get the chocolate products.
However, in the process of making chocolate products, other ingredients such as sweeteners and flavors are added onto the chocolate. It is these flavors and sweeteners added that determine the type of chocolate.
What is the healthiest chocolate?
Although chocolate has numerous benefits, it is important to note that choosing a bad type may put you at a health risk instead of a benefit. In fact, you will find diet plans that put chocolate in the list of foods you should avoid. Other than entirely excluding chocolate from our diet, we should instead focus on the healthiest type of chocolate.
Dark chocolate is the healthiest type of chocolate. This is because it contains a high content of flavonoids and antioxidants. It contains the highest percentage of cocoa compared to other types of chocolate, with a minimum of 35% up to over 85%. The higher percentage of cocoa means more flavonoids, antioxidants, and health benefits.
Dark chocolate also has low added sugar, low fats, and low calories. Dark chocolate has few additives, no preservatives, and it is not processed with alkali.
Chocolate can be among healthy foods list if it has more cocoa than other ingredients. Chocolate with about 70% of cocoa is healthy and should be opted for. However, it will be bitter compared to other types like milk chocolate.
Choosing dark chocolate will improve your health as it is packed with antioxidants that boost immunity and reduce free radicals that would have caused chronic diseases such as cancer.
How to choose the healthiest chocolate.
While shopping, look for these qualities
- Choose chocolate with about 70% or higher cocoa percentage.
- The main ingredient should be cocoa, or cacao and should also dominate in terms of weight.
- Avoid Dutch-processed or chocolate processed with alkali as this type of processing reduces flavonoids content.
- Choose chocolate that has a few ingredients. That means fewer preservatives and synthetic ingredients with no dairy products.
Is chocolate good for your body?
Chocolate has a lot of health benefits, and choosing the right type of chocolate can benefit you more with fewer health risks. Although chocolate has downsides, the health benefits overwhelmingly outweigh whatever effects that come along with eating chocolate. The high levels of antioxidants contained in chocolate and other nutrients like proteins, iron, phosphorus, potassium, calcium, cholesterol, sugars, and fat give chocolate the health benefits.
Health benefits of chocolate.
- Chocolate can improve heart health due to the presence of flavonoids that help to keep veins and arteries in great shape. Its consumption also helps in lowering high cholesterol levels.
- It is also associated with Improved memory function. Chocolate contains caffeine and theobromine that help to improve brain function. From a study by NCBI, high levels of flavonoids found in cocoa can enhance attention, processing speed, and working memory. You may also find articles about chocolate talking about improving Alzheimer’s disease.
- Chocolate is a stress killer and can improve mood. Try giving it to a crying child.
- The presence of antioxidants such as polyphenols, flavonols, and catechins improve health as they fight off free radicals that would have increased the risk of chronic diseases.
- Chocolate is nutrient-dense. It contains essential nutrients such as fiber, iron, magnesium, copper, manganese, potassium, zinc, and selenium which all contribute to a healthy body.
- Flavanols in chocolate stimulate the lining of arteries to relax thus lowering the resistance of blood flow and therefore reducing high blood pressure.
- Chocolate is also good for the skin as it has bioactive compounds like flavonols that improve blood flow to the skin thus ensuring proper health, increased skin density, hydration, and protection from damage caused by the sun.
- Lastly though not so important, chocolate wins hearts. Many relationships have started with a chocolate bar. Am not sure if it’s a dating rule or something, but many people in love send gift chocolates to each other.
Dark chocolate vs. milk chocolate. (Which is better for you dark or milk chocolate?)
Milk chocolate and dark cholate are the most popular types consumed. As seen above, dark chocolate is healthier than other types but what makes it healthier. Let’s unravel milk chocolate and see what makes it fall below dark chocolate in terms of being healthy.
There are many processes involved in the manufacture of milk chocolate and the more the processes of manufacturing, the less the quality.
Milk chocolate has fewer flavanols and the less the flavanols, the fewer the health benefits. The many processes of fermenting, alkalizing, and roasting which is done to reduce the bitter taste in milk chocolates decrease flavanols. The cocoa percentage of milk chocolate is under 10% compared to dark chocolate’s minimum of 35%.
This means that you will get fewer nutrients from milk chocolate but it will taste super awesome. It is unhealthy but it’s freaking sweet and therefore it’s up to you to choose whether to go for a bitter taste with health benefits or the sweet taste with health risks.
Can I eat chocolate and still lose weight?
Many people on weight loss diets and wonder if eating chocolate can ruin their weight loss plans. From a recent article I wrote about Can I eat chocolate and still lose weight? let me site a useful paragraph to give you a broad picture.
You can eat chocolate and still lose weight if you; use a calorie counter, eat more dark chocolate, replace chocolate with sweet alternatives, divide the chocolate ahead of time so that you don’t overeat, and eating chocolate just before exercise.
You can lose weight eating chocolate if you;
- You choose dark chocolate as it is less in added sugars, less in dairy products, and most importantly has fewer calories compared to milk chocolate.
- Eat chocolate in moderation. Don’t go beyond a candy bar a day as this will help you stay within your calorie target.
Did you know eating chocolate can help you lose weight?
Yes, that’s right eating chocolate in moderation can help you control cravings, stress and other ways as seen below
- A square bar of chocolate can help you keep your cravings in check. Eating a square of dark chocolate can help you avoid the temptation of going for bigger snacks that might contain more calories, added sugars, or fats.
- Eating dark chocolate is known for reducing stress. Since stress can cause weight gain when one resorts to emotional eating and other conditions that lead to weight gain, controlling stress can help avoid stress-induced weight gain.
- Eating chocolate can help you feel satisfied for longer. This helps you avoid snacking and you will eat less on your next meal. According to www.warrellcorp.com, Dark chocolate is loaded with monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs), which are plant-based fats that will boost your metabolism and help you burn calories and fat. They can also help lower your cravings for other sweet or salty snacks.
Why chocolate is bad for health?
Excluding dark chocolate, other types of chocolate have a bad reputation for being unhealthy. This is linked to their high fat and sugar content.
- Weight gain: Many brands of chocolate are loaded with calories, high sugar, and fat content which all contribute to weight gain. Chocolates can also have addictives and one may find himself consuming many bars in a day contributing many calories that will, in turn, lead to weight gain.
- Chocolates can lead to tooth decay. The high sugar content from chocolate supports bacteria growth, plague, and gum disease.
- Some chocolate powders contain high levels of heavy metal such as lead and cadmium which are toxic to essential organs such as kidneys and body tissues.
- According to towww.medicalnewstoday.com, Some people may experience an increase in migraines due to regular chocolate consumption. This is due to cocoa’s tyramine, histamine, and phenylalanine content.
The bottom line.
Choosing dark chocolates over other types will benefit you more and expose you to fewer risks. Dark chocolate with 70% and higher is the healthiest kind of chocolate but it should also be eaten in moderation.
Dark chocolate is weight loss friendly but should not be relied on for weight loss. To read more on whether you can eat chocolate and still lose weight, read the article here.
For weight loss, here is a list of weight loss-friendly foods that you can eat in order to achieve a super slim body.