Do you have high blood pressure? Try a truffle. Worried about heart disease? Buy a bon-bon. Dark chocolate is good for more than just mending a broken heart… it’s good for your heart health too! Chocolate can be good for you, but not all chocolate is created equally. Here are 5 tips to help you choose healthy chocolate bars.
1. Pick the dark stuff
Dark chocolate has more flavanols than milk chocolate. Flavanols are what help lower blood pressure, improve cognitive function, and even provide UV protection for our skin! Look for chocolate with 60% cocoa content or more. (70% is best!)
2. Choose quality over quantity
If you are going to eat chocolate, don’t settle. Eat really good chocolate. When eaten as a special treat, with full appreciation, a little chocolate can go a long way!
3. Cacao should be 60% or higher
To reap the benefits of dark chocolate, cacao has to make up a minimum of 60% of the chocolate bar. The cacao bean (from which chocolate is made) is where all of the amazing nutritional qualities are derived, especially the antioxidants.
4. Say no to “dutch chocolate”
The method used to process raw cacao beans affect the amount of flavanols in the end product. If your chocolate says “processed with alkali” on the nutrition label, then it will contain much less flavanols. Processing with alkali is also called “dutching.”
5. The first ingredient should be cocoa butter/cocoa liquor
Avoid chocolate where sugar is the first ingredient. If the chocolate is laden with sugar, it will be more harm to your health than beneficial
So what chocolate bars get the green light? Which should be put back on the shelf? Here are some great examples!
Heart Healthy Chocolate Bars:
Less Than Healthy Chocolate Choices:
Written by Rise Coach Jamie Mortimer, Registered Dietitian. Jamie lives in Southern California but is a true Southern girl at heart (born and raised in Texas) who is also a certified personal trainer and fitness instructor. Learn more about Jamie and how to work with her here.