Is chocolate good for you? Well, it depends on the quality of the chocolate and the person eating the chocolate. Some people are sensitive, or even allergic, to chocolate and/or the caffeine it contains and feel better without it. Other factors to consider include:
- Type: Determine if the chocolate contains raw cacao or if it is the more processed cocoa. Both have benefits but you may do better with one over the other.
- Sweetener: The amount and type of sugar used is important. Conventional chocolate products typically contain genetically modified (GM) beet sugar. Look for organic cane sugar instead. (Non-organic sugar cane is often sprayed with glyphosate right before harvest.)
- Preservatives: Your typical chocolate bar has preservatives and other GM ingredients like soy lecithin, high fructose corn syrup, etc. (Some chocolate products have also been found to contain heavy metals.) Be sure to read all the ingredients
- Pesticides: The cacao bean is typically a high pesticide crop, so eating organic chocolate is important.
Good quality chocolate does have several known health benefits. Cocoa powder is a rich source of fiber with some protein but little fat. Cacao also includes healthy fats, vitamins, minerals, and natural carbohydrates. It is an excellent source of magnesium, has mood-enhancing nutrients, and helps protect against cognitive decline. It also helps to feed certain strains of good bacteria in our gut!
However, it is hard to find chocolate bars and other treats that meet all the requirements listed above. And, when you do, they usually cost quite a bit.
. . . So, instead, consider making your own chocolate treat! The chocolates below are full of wholesome ingredients, including good, healthy fats.
Healthy Chocolate Bites
- 1/2 cup organic coconut oil
- 1/2 cup organic raw cacao butter (or another 1/2 cup organic coconut oil)
- 1/2 cup organic sweetener (dark maple syrup, raw honey, or coconut palm sugar)
- 1 cup organic* cocoa powder (or cacao powder, or carob powder)
- pinch of salt
- 1 tsp. gluten-free vanilla (or other extract such as peppermint)
Carefully melt the coconut oil and coco butter. Use either a double boiler or a heat resistant glass measuring cup set in a large saucepan with a few inches of water. Slowly heat on the stove top until the oil/butter mixture is mostly melted. You do not want it to get too hot.
Pour the almost melted mixture into a mixing bowl or food processor, add the remaining ingredients, and mix/process until smooth. Pour mixture into molds and put in freezer to harden for about an hour. Store in refrigerator or freezer until ready to eat. (The coconut oil will cause these chocolates to get soft at room temperature).
You can use a variety of items as molds, such as cupcake liners and silicone candy molds. You can also pour the mixture into a greased glass pan and use a knife to cut into chunks after it hardens. Delicious!
*NOTE: A chocolate labeled as “Fair Trade” is not the same thing as organic. A product certified as Fair Grade typically means that there is a restriction of pesticides and fertilizers and there are no GMOs (among other things). However, you should still look for “Organic” and “Non-GMO” certifications.
This article was written by Sharon Harmon, founder of Life Design for Health. She has a passion for helping people find their way back to optimum health. Please contact her if you would like to know more. There is a great deal of health-related information in her blog articles and on her website.