Disclaimer: we are not medical professionals, consult with your doctor before making any kind of change in your diet!
If you’ve ever heard of dark chocolate, you may have also heard many of the rumours surrounding it: either it’s a miracle product or bad for you, either it boosts your health or it weakens it and so on.
So we thought we would do a little research and do some myth-busting to really see what’s what with all the dark chocolate.
Dark chocolate vs milk chocolate
While this debate can go into an enormous amount of details, here’s the basic difference: the cacao percentage. While both dark and milk chocolate contain that healthy ingredient, the percentage of it compared to all of the other stuff that’s on the ingredient list is what matters. A milk chocolate bar may contain as little as 10 per cent cacao, while a dark chocolate bar may contain up to 90 per cent.
The more cocoa, the more flavonoids, and the better for you the chocolate becomes. Plus, dark chocolate varieties often have less added sugar and fat which can also improve its overall nutritional value.
The benefits of dark chocolate
1. It’s super nutritious
If you buy quality dark chocolate with a high cocoa content, then it is actually quite nutritious, due to the amount of soluble fibre and a load full of minerals. Even more, it also has plenty of potassium, phosphorus, zinc and selenium.
Another thing to consider is that the fatty acid profile of cocoa and dark chocolate is also excellent. The fats are mostly saturated and monounsaturated, with small amounts of polyunsaturated fat. It also contains stimulants like caffeine and theobromine, but is unlikely to keep you awake at night as the amount of caffeine is very small compared to coffee. However, if you’re not a coffee drinker, you should be wary of eating it in the afternoon.
2. It’s a good source of antioxidants
It is worth starting by mentioning that raw, unprocessed cocoa beans are among the highest-scoring foods that have been tested. Dark chocolate is loaded with organic compounds that are biologically active and function as antioxidants. These include polyphenols, flavanols and catechins, among others.
One study showed that cocoa and dark chocolate had more antioxidant activity, polyphenols and flavonoids than any other fruits tested, which included blueberries and acai berries.
3. It raises HDL and protects LDL from oxidation
Consuming dark chocolate can improve several important risk factors for heart disease. In a controlled study, cocoa powder was found to significantly decrease oxidized LDL cholesterol in men. It also increased HDL and lowered total LDL for those with high cholesterol.
Oxidized LDL means that the LDL (“bad” cholesterol) has reacted with free radicals, which makes the LDL particle itself reactive and capable of damaging other tissues, such as the lining of the arteries in your heart.
And these are just a few of the benefits of eating good quality dark chocolate!
But where does chocolate come from?
From the supermarket? Yes, sure. But that’s only one stop in its long journey to us. And it also matters how it comes to us. So, let’s talk about fair trade!
Fairtrade cocoa is an agricultural product harvested from a cocoa tree using a certified process which is followed by cocoa farmers, buyers, and chocolate manufacturers, and is designed to create sustainable incomes for farmers and their families. Companies that use fair trade certified cocoa to create products are contributing to social, economic, and environmental sustainability in agriculture. In other words, fair trade cocoa and, respectively, fair trade chocolate, means not only having a good quality product but also taking care of everyone involved in the process.
So, overall, there is considerable evidence that cocoa can provide powerful health benefits, but this doesn’t mean you should go all out and consume lots of chocolate every day. It is still loaded with calories and easy to overeat, so a balanced consumption is key!
Maybe have a square or two after dinner and try to really savour them, or enjoy a piece of a good quality dessert, such as the Choco Cake Box: with 2 slices each of our Chocolate Lover cake, our Strawberry Choco cake, and our Blueberry cake, this is one combo that will bring you the indulgence of chocolate, alongside a super healthy portion of nuts and fruit!