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Unveiling the Sweet Truth: The Good, the Bad, and the Tasty of Chocolate!

Updated: May 10

Do you ever indulge in delicious high quality chocolate? Of course you do! It’s an American pastime. But have you ever stopped to think about why it tastes so good, or what makes you crave it?  

Some jest that chocolate is the only ingredient with its very own food group. While that's not quite accurate, it certainly feels that way at times. Luxuriously comforting, velvety, and undeniably scrumptious—chocolate finds its way into the lives of many people several times a week.

But here's the burning question: Is Chocolate Good for You?

The answer, as it turns out, is a bit of a mixed bag.

As educated consumers, many of my clients revel in the satisfaction of indulging in dark, organic chocolate. However, it's important to take time to learn more about the quality of the foods we consume and understand why we derive such pleasure from indulging in this particular treat.

Chocolate has a Rich Medicinal History...

Of being utilized for various purposes over centuries, from treating bronchitis to lifting spirits during bouts of depression. Its consumption is associated with the release of serotonin, the brain's feel-good neurotransmitter.

Yet, tread the wrong path, and you'll find yourself confronted with a slew of sugar, calories, undesirable additives and toxins.

So, How Does One Navigate the Chocolate Landscape Responsibly?

Chocolate starts its journey as raw cacao beans, packed with antioxidants, minerals, vitamins, and plant phenols, making it a nutritional powerhouse. However, as it undergoes processing, particularly in the realm of commercially produced candy bars, many of these beneficial components are stripped away.

To make the most out of your chocolate indulgence, embrace the darkness. The higher the cacao content, the more nutritional value chocolate retains. Pay attention to percentages; the number on dark chocolate packaging indicates the cacao bean's concentration in the chocolate.

For optimal health benefits, opt for dark chocolate containing 75% to 85% cacao and aim for raw or minimally processed varieties whenever possible.

Now, let's delve into some vital nutritional insights.

Raw cacao or dark organic chocolate is a veritable super food, boasting over 300 phytonutrients, including flavonoids, which serve as potent antioxidants. Regular consumption in moderate amounts has been linked to numerous health benefits, such as lowering blood pressure, reducing insulin resistance, and combating inflammation.

Beware of Processing, and Heavy Metals

However, the processing of cocoa, particularly with alkali, can significantly diminish its flavanol content, thereby negating many of its health benefits.

The percentage of cacao on the label does not adequately indicate the chocolate bar’s nutritional content and therefore the package details cannot adequately suggest its health benefits.

Additionally, it's crucial to be mindful of potential contaminants in chocolate, such as heavy metals like lead and cadmium, which can pose significant health risks, particularly in high concentrations. This is only revealed by doing some homework.

According to Consumer Lab Report data, one third of chocolate products are high in heavy metals. 

Lead is inadvertently deposited on the cocoa beans after harvest as beans dry outdoors. This can have an impact on children’s cognitive abilities. Exposure is also linked to immune system suppression, reproductive issues, kidney damage, and hypertension.

Cadmium is absorbed by the cocoa plant from the soil as it grows. This can lead to kidney disease, cardiovascular disease & bone weakness.

Bottom Line!

Indulging in dark organic chocolate is not just about gratification—it's a responsibility for the informed consumer. While it offers a plethora of health benefits, including antioxidants and flavanols that support cardiovascular health, it's essential to remain vigilant about processing methods and potential contaminants that could compromise its potential health benefits.

Understanding both the merits and pitfalls of chocolate consumption empowers us to make informed choices to prioritize your health.

It’s definitely important to do your research or work with an educated health coach like me to help you explain the good, the bad and the tasty of chocolate and other foods that may or may not be beneficial. Let's learn together what works for your personal health plan. Schedule a discovery session today!

This communication may contain general nutrition and lifestyle advice. I am not a licensed physician. My advice is not intended, and you should not use it, to attempt to diagnose, prevent or treat diseases, ailments, pain or other medical conditions. Please consult your personal licensed physician to seek advice about diagnosing, preventing or treating specific ailments.

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