For me, chocolate might as well be its own food group. Chocolate is most often thought of as an unhealthy treat or vice, but what many people don’t realize is that certain forms of chocolate are jam-packed with nutrients and can be added to our diets in a healthy and nourishing way. Here are 3 suggestions for healthy ways to add chocolate to your diet!
Many companies describe their chocolate as “dark”. But it’s important to look at the actual percentage of cocoa because only chocolate over 72% cocoa should be considered dark chocolate. Anything under that will have significantly less nutrients and does become more of a dessert than a food. If you pick a truly “dark” chocolate, you will be consuming something that is very high in antioxidants, fiber, iron, magnesium, copper and manganese as well as countless other nutrients. (1)
Not only is finding a truly dark chocolate important but its also important find something that is Organic, Fair Trade or best of all, raw. Even processed dark chocolates can have minimal nutrients so it’s important to find something as minimally processed as possible. If there any ingredients you don’t understand, it’s probably not the best choice. (2)
And of course, with any food, its important to exercise portion control and not eat an entire bar of dark chocolate in one sitting. I like to eat 1-3 squares at a time for the optimal level of health and nutrients.
It’s important to note that cacao powder and cocoa powder are different. Cocoa powder is much more readily available but is often processed and contains additional ingredients like cocoa butter and sugar. Cacao powder is much more nutrient dense and is more often than not sold raw, which allows all of the vitamins, nutrients and enzymes to remain intact. I use cacao powder in just about everything from baked goods to chia pudding, chocolate almond milk and smoothies. I even make my own hot chocolate with it using homemade almond milk and adding a bit of coconut nectar or stevia for sweetness. (2)
Cacao nibs are another amazing way to add nutrient-dense chocolate to your diet. Similar to cacao powder, cacao nibs are often sold raw and unprocessed. These nibs are actually just cacao beans that have been broken into smaller pieces. Their taste is a bit earthier than what many of us consider chocolate to taste like, but they are an amazing source of nutrients and a great addition to a lot of healthy meals and snacks. I add cacao nibs to my smoothies for texture and also sprinkle them on chia pudding, yogurt or any type of breakfast cereal.
Anya Kaats & Suja Juice
1. Smith, Susan. "Cacao Percentages." - The Story of Chocolate. 2014. https://www.candyusa.com/story-of-chocolate/
2. "Dark Chocolates." Organic Dark Chocolate Fair Trade. 2015. http://www.tropicaltraditions.com/organic_dark_chocolate.htm?gclid=Cj0KEQjwo7auBRCOtoqn_s-G7aMBEiQAxArNrBzT_EvoMPSPmP4ta1ngpWldWQQgckZ-fXmmimU-U_8aAtZu8P8HAQ