Understanding How to Choose Nutrient-Rich Chocolate
Here is some great news for all of the chocoholics around the world. Research has shown that processed chocolate remains nutrient rich even after purification. Although raw cocoa contains the highest level of nutrient content, most health studies are conducted with cocoa or chocolate, not in the raw state.
Therefore, consumers should look for minimally processed chocolate that is pleasing to the palate. It’s a wiser decision to choose high quality chocolate indulgences. Don’t sacrifice the potential health benefits for more sweetness and preservatives. Some cocoa products contain excessive amounts of refined sugar and additives.
Cocoa in its natural state offers the highest nutritional value.
In order to reap the most benefits from cocoa it is best to eat it raw, but few people can tolerate the bitterness. The next best thing is to consume chocolate that is higher in cocoa with less sugar. Dark chocolate has a much higher percentage of raw cocoa than milk chocolate. The darker the chocolate is the more flavanols it contains, resulting in a very bitter tasting product. Flavanols are powerful antioxidants naturally found in cocoa. They are often removed in processing to improve taste. By doing so, manufacturers are also taking away valuable health benefits. If it doesn’t taste good most consumers will not buy it, no matter how good it is for them.
Chocolate products containing a cocoa percentage of 70 or higher offer valuable nutrients
Milk chocolate contains an abundance of sugar and pasteurized milk. There is little to no nutrient value. If you desire white chocolate, this choice is not better. It offers no phytonutrients and is also extremely high in sugar content. If you can accept the flavor, and perhaps acquire a taste for it, raw cocoa is the best choice. The darkest fine chocolate will have a bitter taste, but it provides a powerful dose of key nutrients.
Cacao versus Cocoa
Cacao is derived from an evergreen tree in the Theobroma cacao species. The seeds from this plant are known as cacao or cocoa beans. These beans are generally roasted and used to make chocolate. When the roasting process is omitted, the seeds are cultivated into raw chocolate.
Cocoa is the result of ground cacao beans that have been roasted and husked. The majority of fat is extracted from the powder. It is important to understand the differences in chocolate products being offered to consumers. They don’t all offer sufficient health benefits.
High quality chocolate has been called a modern day superfood. The right cocoa products offer some of the most valuable anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties of any food available.
Just like with any good thing, high quality chocolate is best taken in moderation. It is suggested that consumers ingest small amounts two or three times per day. This will ensure a steady flow of anti-oxidants through your bloodstream daily. It has been shown that divided doses are likely to provide health benefits, but be careful not to overindulge.