With chocolate being such a popular Valentine’s Day gift, I thought I would indulge you in a little dark chocolate nutrition review and buying guide. Those of you looking for a gift with a little healthy twist will appreciate this.
What is Dark Chocolate?
Dark chocolate is made from the cacao bean, which is grown and harvested in central and south America, the Caribbean and other tropical regions around the world. The cacao bean is known to have numerous, powerful health benefits, mainly stemming from it’s high concentration of flavonoids, ie. antioxidants.
Health Benefits of Dark Chocolate
For hundreds of years, dark chocolate has been known to possess incredible medicinal powers. Today, it’s widely documented as having one of the highest antioxidant contents of any food on the planet!
The antioxidants found in dark chocolate are called flavonoids, similar to those found in red wine and tea, and has been found to have more antioxidants than blueberries and acai!
Remember, these are health benefits…and, these are measured by consuming small quantities of pure dark chocolate. There is no need to overindulge to gain their nutrient value 🙂 a couple of small squares will definitely suffice.
Dark chocolate’s health benefits include:
- Reduces risk of high blood pressure, stroke and cardiovascular disease
- Boosts good cholesterol (HDL) and helps to fight bad cholesterol (LDL)
- High antioxidant content helps to guard against toxins in the body
- Great anti-inflammatory benefits
- Fights against nerve damage and protects your central nervous system
- Potent mineral content: iron, potassium, magnesium, calcium, zinc and copper
Cacao vs. Cocoa – What’s the Difference
A lot actually!
Cacao and cacao powder – cacao is the one with all of the amazing health benefits, as it is made by cold pressing raw cocoa beans. So, the beans remain uncooked and unheated, and retain their full nutritional value.
Cocoa and cocoa powder – cocoa does not contain as high of a nutrition content. By contrast, cocoa is roasted cacao powder. So, they take the raw cacao powder, roast it at high temperatures, which then kills many of the potent flavonoids and diminishing it’s nutritional value.
Dark Chocolate Grades
Not all dark chocolate is created equal. And, just because it says Dark Chocolate on the label does not necessarily means it’s good for you. If sugar is listed as the first ingredient on the label, then chances are it’s not as pure or high in it’s health benefits.
When shopping, you’ll notice that dark chocolate is graded by the amount of cacao that it contains. Generally speaking, the higher the grade, the higher the quality and deeper the flavor.
So, 85% dark chocolate is more pure and has a deeper, full body flavor than 75% dark chocolate.
I suggest picking a dark chocolate that is at least 75% cacao. This will start to have a more robust, natural and delicious flavor.
Give The Best to your Valentine – Here Are My Faves
If you’re looking for an awesome (and, healthy) gift idea for your special person on Valentine’s Day, then check out this list I’ve put together of my favorite dark chocolate brands, as well as some teas that go well with dark chocolate or are absolutely delicious on their own.