Dark chocolate is one of the guilty pleasures that many find hard to resist. No one would ever imagine that chocolate can top the list of the healthiest snacks.
However, research has since proved us wrong. Dark chocolate has numerous health benefits; it’s essential for weight loss, blood sugar regulation, and improving heart health. Nonetheless, quality is of the essence, and there are various aspects to consider when shopping.
Here’s an ultimate guide for dark chocolate shoppers:
- Check the ingredients
All dark chocolate brands feature varying ingredients. Pick a product with fewer constituents, and ensure that it contains cocoa or liquor as the first ingredient. There are different forms of cocoa, such as cocoa powder, cocoa nibs, or cocoa butter. Some of the ingredients to look out for;
Sugar is normally added to dark chocolate to adulterate its bitter taste. Although it’s a key element for this type of chocolate, some manufacturers overdo it. It’s not easy to find dark chocolate with no added sugar. So, choose organic chocolate or a brand that doesn’t list sugar as the first ingredient.
Lecithin acts as an emulsifier and is an arbitrary ingredient. It helps blend flavors and prevents cocoa and cocoa butter from separating. The amounts used are minimal and shouldn’t pose any health concerns.
Any high-quality dark chocolate should have some milk in it. Some manufacturers also add milk fat to add flavor and soften the chocolate. But, milk fat isn’t an obligatory ingredient in dark chocolate.
Dark chocolate is normally seasoned with oils, spices, and extracts to enhance the taste. Vanilla is commonly used, but it isn’t easy to differentiate artificial and natural flavors. If you prefer dark flavored chocolate, pick organic chocolates; this ensures that the flavors aren’t artificial.
- Trans Fat
Most dark chocolates don’t contain trans fat. But if you find one with this, consider another brand. Trans fat is a risk factor for heart disease, but some manufactures use it to prolong the chocolate’s shelf life.
- Consider the cocoa percentage.
Dark chocolates have varying levels of cocoa percentage, and this varies from one brand to the other. Choose brands with a cocoa percentage of over 70% or higher. Dark chocolates containing higher percentages of cocoa are rich in antioxidants, nutrients, and low in sugar. And this translates to various health benefits.
- Avoid dutched chocolate
Dutching is a process that uses alkali to change the color of the chocolate and also minimize the sour taste. It’s also known as alkalization and can significantly affect the number of antioxidants in the chocolate. It’s advisable to avoid dutched chocolate due to their minimal health benefits.
- Go for organic chocolate
Choose organic chocolates for they are healthy and don’t contain any artificial chemicals. The coffee beans are never sprayed with pesticides or treated using synthetic fertilizers.
There are various high-quality dark chocolate brands available in the market. They include; Chocolate and Love, Pascha, Antidote, Equal Exchange, and more. The next time you go shopping, consider the ingredients used, and go for organic chocolate bars.