If there is an international week of chocolate celebration it has to be this week. While many of the chocolate boxes, candygrams or other sweet confections are basically wax-flavored chocolate, real chocolate not only melts in your mouth but is good for your health.
Before we jump into why we love chocolate, why we eat it every day and why we are still healthy, let’s get one thing clear. 99% of what is called chocolate no more resembles a cocoa bean than Matt LeBlanc as Joey Tribbiani resembles doctor Dr. Drake Ramoray. An actor, playing an actor, playing a doctor. Basically, what you may think as chocolate, most likely is a cheap impostor. Like all good food — real, whole, good, chocolate should only have a handful of ingredients.
In a totally non-scientific analysis of over 100 or so dark chocolate bars over the last year, we believe the following ingredients are acceptable:
- Cocoa beans, nibs or mass (beans are whole, nibs are just crushed beans, mass is partly churned beans)
- Cocoa butter and/or silk (this is not butter, but an edible vegetable fat from the cocoa bean)
- Sugar (to make is sweet!)
- Vanilla beans (for flavor)
You might also see lecithin. It’s a soy emulsifier. It’s a cheap alternative to cocoa butter and silk. Personally, we avoid bars with this ingredient based on taste and quality preferences, but from a health perspective, it seems ok.
You get it, we are total chocolate snobs – dark chocolate elitists who scoff at any milk chocolate or dare you say, white chocolate. But like all good food, chocolate is best when it showcases the quality of ingredients, not complex food science.
The Health Benefits of Chocolate
To be clear, sugar is not and never will be healthy. It’s the devil. Chocolate is often overprocessed with sugar. The good from cocoa will not make up for the bad from sugar. That being said, there is data that suggests chocolate can reduce the chance of heart attacks and strokes, prevent cancer, make your skin look good and make you live longer. Please note, the data we have seen is suggestive but not conclusive. Take it with a grain of salt.
But remember this: at best, is cocoa in it’s purest form (the bean), so keep that in mind as you guzzle down your next mocha from Starbucks that leaves you feeling bloated, slow, and just terrible.
Step Aside Redbull, Chocolate is in the New Energy Supplement
Need a boost of 100% organically supplied whole food energy this afternoon? Have chocolate. Yes we know coffee is also an answer, but live a little. Cocoa also contains natural levels of caffeine. A cup of coffee is going to have roughly double the levels of caffeine (compared to a 2-ounce 70% dark chocolate bar), but for our calories, chocolate is a more satisfying indulgence.
Who Cares if Chocolate is Good For You
We eat chocolate (mostly dark, 70% or greater) because we like the way it tastes, not because some under-analyzed and paid for by the Mars Candy Bar Corporation Study calls it “healthy”. We eat it because we enjoy it. We don’t eat a lot. We aren’t afraid to indulge from time to time.
Celebrate this week. Eat chocolate because you are in love. Eat chocolate because you aren’t! Happy Valentine’s Day.
Fun Fact – Did you know the percentage of chocolate you see on bars, like 70%, is the percentage of cocoa beans (and butter) vs. other ingredients (mostly sugar). If you are worried about sugar intake opt for a higher percentage bar.