Patrick tells us the truth about how to choose how healthy chocolate really is, even high-cacao percentage dark chocolate.
Unfortunately, says Patrick, even the “healthiest” dark chocolates can have up to 30% sugar.
“This is because sugar is cheaper than cacao, therefore adding more doesn’t cost the chocolate companies as much – and, of course, many of us are addicted to sugar,” says Patrick.
MEDIOCRE MILK CHOCOLATE
Milk chocolate only contains approximately only 20% of cacao solids, as opposed to around 80% usually found in dark chocolate. This means that the “rest” of milk chocolate is made up of sugar and other unhealthy ingredients including trans-fats in the form of hydrogenated oils, which are linked to obesity and heart disease.
To make matters worse, all the goodness of the antioxidants found in the cacao in milk chocolate, when combined with milk, makes their beneficial effects “less potent”. This means the higher the milk content found in milk chocolate, the less absorption of antioxidants into the blood-stream – another reason for choosing 70-80% dark chocolate.
THE BENEFITS OF CACAO
Cacao’s health benefits come from its high flavonoid content. These flavonoids promote healthy brain functioning, as well as providing protection for the brain thanks to its anti-inflammatory properties. The higher the cocoa content of the chocolate, the greater the flavonoid content and therefore the better it is for you.
Cacao can also improve cardio-vascular health by reducing blood clotting, blood pressure and inflammation. Some studies have shown that cacao can lower blood pressure and may even decrease the risk of dementia.
IS THERE SUCH A THING AS “RAW” CHOCOLATE?
The cacao bean is roasted at high temperatures, like coffee beans, to create chocolate. Cacao must also be fermented, which generates a great amount of heat, which disproves the idea of “raw” chocolate.
Unroasted cacao beans contain a much higher flavonoid content, as roasting them at a temperature of over 43 degrees Celsius causes nutrient degradation. So, if you can find dark chocolate that specifically states “unroasted” – this is your healthiest option.
WHY IT’S BETTER TO GO DARK
When your chocolate craving hits, choose 10g (approximately two squares) of good quality 70% or higher dark chocolate – this is 5GLs of your daily 40GL’s, for weight-loss, and 60GL’s of your maintenance plan, allocation.