Let's face it. We're all going to eat chocolate. But you don't have to feel
guilty! Chocolate is actually good for you...it's all the things added to it
that are the problem. Here's how you can choose delicious healthy
chocolates to enjoy anytime.
The gift of chocolate to a beloved as a token of love is more than just
tradition. Naturally-occurring compounds in chocolate produce that mild
euphoria of being in love and contribute to enjoyable interpersonal
relations by elevating mood and enhancing sensory perception.
Beyond good feelings, chocolate benefits the body in many ways. In
moderation, chocolate can contribute to heart health, help you live
longer, suppress a chronic cough, and add needed magnesium to your
diet. Chocolate even contains a high level of chromium, which can help
control blood sugar.
While chocolate itself is fine to eat, there are some substances present
in chocolate products that you should watch out for.
Most chocolate products contain tremendous amounts of refined white
sugar, which is harmful to health in many ways.
Chocolate may also contain pesticides. The EPA allows various levels of
pesticide residue to be present in cocoa powder, and the FDA Total Diet
Study found them in many chocolate products.
Many chocolates also contain the toxic metals cadminum and lead.
"Significant levels" of these metals were found in 68% of the common
chocolate products tested. There is no safe level for lead, and it is
particularly harmful to children.
Healthy Chocolate Choices
Here are some guidelines for choosing the healthiest chocolates.
1. Choose chocolates with the least amount of refined white sugar or
other sweetener. Dark "bittersweet" chocolates with a high percentage
of cocoa solids (usually the label will state the exact percentage) have
less sugar than semisweet or milk chocolate and also have the greatest
health benefits. Keep in mind that flavor additions, such as dried fruits
and candied ginger may also add sugar to the chocolate.
2. Choose chocolates sweetened with evaporated cane juice or barley
malt. If the evaporated cane juice used is the unprocessed whole juice
of the cane, it acts in the body like a whole food and doesn't give a
sugar rush. Barley malt is also a slow-release sweetener, noted on the
label as "grain-sweetened."
3. Choose organic chocolates. Certified organic chocolate ensures there
are no harmful pesticide residues.
4. Make your own chocolates. It's easy to make many chocolate delights
yourself, with the exact ingredients you want. Start with unsweetened
cocoa powder or baking chocolate and be creative!
5. Choose quality over quantity. If you are going to eat chocolate, eat
really good chocolate. Then, for maximum enjoyment, give the taste of
the chocolate your full attention, eat it at a time when you are not
famished or overly full, and allow the chocolate to melt in your mouth to
make the experience last.
So go ahead and enjoy chocolate, in moderation, as part of an
otherwise healthy diet,