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EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT CHOCOLATE

It’s National Chocolate Cupcake Day today. Yes, that’s right. As if we needed another test of our willpower.  What’s even worse, according to Patrick, is that even the “healthiest” dark chocolates can have up to 30% sugar. But, as with everything in life, moderation is key and when it comes to maintaining a healthy diet, balancing your blood sugar is crucial.

So, here’s everything you need to know about chocolate to help you make the healthiest choices possible.

AVOID THE MILKY WAY
When we think about chocolate, most of us will imagine a deliciously sweet, silky slab of milk chocolate. But did you know that milk chocolate contains approximately only 20% of cacao solids and the rest 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? It’s deliciously sweet for good reason – because of the amount of sugar that is packed into it. This is also why it is the more affordable chocolate to buy as sugar is cheaper than cacao.

Added to this, all the goodness of the antioxidants found in cacao become less effective when combined with milk. So, the higher the milk content of your bar of milk chocolate, the fewer antioxidants your body is likely to absorb.

CACAO CALLING
Almost all chocolate products are derived from the Cacao plant, an evergreen tree popular in South America and West Africa. The reason cacao is said to be so healthy is because of its high flavonoid content. Flavonoids are the largest group of phytonutrients (plant chemicals) found in almost all fruit and vegetables and they are responsible for giving plants their vivid colour. The higher the flavonoid, the more intense the colour. But more than that, flavonoids promote healthy brain functioning, as well as providing protection for the brain thanks to its anti-inflammatory properties. Cacao can also help improve cardio-vascular health by reducing blood clotting, blood pressure and inflammation.

A MELTING POT
To make chocolate, the cacao bean is roasted at high temperatures, just like coffee beans. Cacao also needs to be fermented, a process which generates a large amount of heat. The problem with heating is that it can lead to nutrient degradation and the destruction of flavonoids. But all is not lost…

THE BEST OF A BAD BUNCH
When you’re hit by that overwhelming craving, your best bet is to look for good quality chocolate that is “unroasted” and 70% or higher dark chocolate and try to only eat around 10g (2 squares).

Dark chocolate cupcake anyone?