I want to believe that all chocolate is good for me because it tastes so darn good. I'm actually a chocolaholic ~ wow, it feels good to admit that :) When it became known that chocolate was actually good for us, it was like, "can I get a halleluiah?!" We rejoiced as women and started to stuff our faces. The experts told us to eat chocolate in moderation, that it contains antioxidants and nutrients that are beneficial to our health. This was the best news of the century. Well, if the experts say it’s healthy than let’s do it, right? WRONG! What the experts failed to tell us was not all chocolate is created equal.
I’m going to get to the bottom of differentiating between good and bad chocolate but first let me answer a few simple questions:
Where does chocolate come from? Chocolate is primarily farmed in remote areas typically in West Africa, Southeast / Central Asia, and South America. Chocolate begins inside a fruit called a pod, the bitter cocoa bean is what forms into chocolate. There are about 50-60 seeds in a pod that are nestled in a sweet juicy pulp that protect the bean.
What processes does the bean have to go through to turn it into chocolate? In the beginning stages, the pod is broken apart, the beans are extracted and then left outside to dry and ferment in the hot sun. Once the beans are dried, they are bagged and shipped off to processing facilities all around the world. At the facility, the beans are inspected and washed. From there, the beans are then roasted and ground. During the roasting process, the beans are “cooked” at around 250 degrees which it will lose some of its nutrients during this process. There are variations that happen next: the bean can be pressed which extracts the “fat” or butter and turns it into a powder, or it can be turned into a liquid or nib (the meat inside of bean).
How does it turn into a chocolate bar and taste so good? After all its processes the chocolate is then mixed with lecithin (fat that occurs in plants and animals), vanilla, sugar and milk (for milk chocolate). There are variations of the mixture which will determine the percentage of pure cocoa.
What’s in chocolate that makes it good for us? Chocolate contains fat (great for the brain), antioxidants (great for circulation and fighting off free radicals), phenylethylamine (gives us the feeling of being in love), vitamins and minerals such as potassium, copper, iron, and magnesium.
Let’s go back to talking about lecithin for a second. More often than not, chocolate is mixed with soy lecithin. Natural occurring lecithin is healthy for us, it has many benefits for our health. But, soy lecithin is quite the opposite of healthy. Soy is mostly all genetically modified, and has dangerous phytoestrogens that imbalance hormones in our body. What is soy lecithin, you ask? Soybean oil is extracted from raw soybeans using a chemical called hexane, from there it goes through a “degumming” process where water is mixed through the soy oil until the “fat” becomes hydrated and separates from the oil. The fat is then bleached with hydrogen peroxide. Supposedly, there is a process that removes any toxins and chemicals but one never knows how much hexane or other chemicals we’re ingesting.
Let me break it down for ya Barney style: chocolate that is mixed with soy, and dairy is NOT a healthy choice. There are NO benefits to refined sugar, GMO soy and GMO dairy. Not to mention HFCS, modified whatevers etc…Sorry ya’ll but stay away from Hershey’s- they are the worst.
The best kind of chocolate is dark chocolate with 60% cocoa or better. The bigger the percentage of raw cocoa, the bitter the chocolate. The most important factor in choosing chocolate is looking at the ingredients; make sure you understand the ingredients in plain words. Any long, scientific words are not acceptable. The sugar content should be low, and allow me to express this again IT SHOULD NOT CONTAIN SOY OR DAIRY! All in all, the darker the chocolate, the bigger the health benefit, enjoy!
Questions? Shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org