Plant Magazine of Botanical-online September 2017

Natural remedies

Pure chocolate, the healthiest chocolate

What is the best chocolate for your health

HOW TO BUY A GOOD CHOCOLATE (RICH IN COCOA)

What is the purest cocoa?

The purest cocoa is fermented cocoa beans, which are sold whole, ground (cocoa nibs) or powdered. All cocoa is fermented. It is fermented after harvesting, because in this process it is when the aromatic compounds responsible for its flavor are formed.

Consuming pure cocoa powder or ground is the way to get as many flavonoids and antioxidant compounds as possible.

How is pure cocoa consumed?

Generally, pure cocoa powder is very bitter, so it is accompanied by sweet or sweetening ingredients like sugar, cinnamon, carob, dates to prepare recipes such as homemade cacao cream, truffles or vegan cakes.

Nor is it necessary to add sweet to consume pure cocoa, it can be added to sauces. In some countries, such as Mexico, sauces are prepared with mixtures of spices that include ground cocoa, which is the soft sauce (typical of the Oaxaca region).

Without doubt the most widespread form of eating cocoa is in the form of chocolate.

How to buy dark chocolate

Photo of black chocolate tablet
Photo of dark chocolate tablet. All dark chocolate is rich in cocoa and its components

Why does dark chocolate have benefits?

It is said that dark chocolate has benefits because it has a high proportion of cocoa, which means that there are appreciable amounts of stimulant alkaloids (theobromine), antioxidant flavonoids and magnesium. From these components, it can be expected that chocolate has different properties.

Chocolate is the cocoa paste obtained from the grinding of the seeds, mixed with sugar (or other sweeteners such as fructose, stevia, agave syrup or panela) and spices such as vanilla, cinnamon, or even essential oils.

Because it contains sugar, after eating chocolate it is best to brush your teeth to prevent the occurrence of tooth decay.

In addition, chocolate can contain other ingredients, in different proportion according to the brand (milk, walnuts, almonds, etc.). People with food allergies should carefully read the ingredients.

What is the purest chocolate in the store?

A very common query is how to buy or search on the supermarket shelves for chocolate that is pure. Currently there are many types of chocolate, of different quality and proportion of cocoa.

To obtain the properties of cocoa dark chocolate, a minimum of 70% cocoa is recommended. Chocolate that has a high percentage of cocoa is called "dark chocolate".

The best chocolate for health is the dark chocolate with the highest amount of cocoa

How to read the label of dark chocolate

To find a dark chocolate rich in cocoa we can guide you through advertising, but you should always confirm the information by referring to the ingredients on the label. In authentic dark chocolates, advertising is usually very good: 70% cocoa (or higher).

You should read the list of ingredients, in which the cocoa paste has to be the first ingredient of any dark chocolate. In foods, the ingredients are listed in the ingredients in order from highest to lowest amount, so in a dark chocolate the first ingredient should be the cocoa paste.

chocolate labels
Authentic dark chocolate is advertised as "70% cocoa" (or higher) and the first ingredient is cocoa. The proportion of sugar varies (see nutrition table)

Chocolate fondant, Stone chocolate... Are they dark chocolate?

Usually, the first ingredient of chocolate tablets is sugar, which tells us that they have little cocoa and too much sugar. Pure cocoa is very bitter and practically can not be eaten if it is not sweetened, so in the confection of chocolate large amounts of sugar that can reach 50% of the composition or more are used.

Sometimes dark chocolate has misleading slogans, with words like "fondant" or "chocolate to stone", but when we see the ingredients we realize that they contain mainly sugar. In authentic dark chocolates, advertising is usually very good: 70% cocoa (or higher).

Dark chocolate label with lots of sugar
Dark chocolate label with lots of sugar. We see that it is called "dark chocolate" but if we consult its ingredients it mainly contains sugar, which is the first ingredient named.

Properties of milk chocolate

The addition of milk to chocolate lowers the concentration of its principles and makes it less antioxidant. It appears that milk proteins bind to antioxidants and make it difficult to absorb them.

You should consult on the label what proportion of cocoa it contains. In many brands sugar is the first ingredient. It is recommended to look for brands that provide more cocoa than sugar or milk.

Pure chocolate is the one with the most antioxidant properties and the one that should be eaten for more benefits. It should be noted that the same studies indicate that the dose of chocolate that should be eaten should be very small and should not exceed a daily square to avoid that other detrimental effects of this food can outweigh its benefits.

Chocolate with nuts, energetic combination

Chocolate with nuts is the one that carries, as its own denomination indicates, some kind of nuts, such as almonds, walnuts, hazelnuts, pistachios, Brazil nuts,...etc.

It is usually more energetic and also provides more magnesium and fiber than chocolate.

You should consult on the label what proportion of cocoa it contains

Another option is to prepare it yourself in a homemade way, the procedure is as simple as preparing the molten chocolate and putting it in a mold with nuts or other ingredients: raisins, nuts, spices, etc.

Is fructose chocolate better?

Fructose was advertised as a remedy for diabetes because it was said that its consumption does not raise blood glucose levels. However it is still a simple type of sugar that produces cavities, provides a lot of energy and raises triglycerides and cholesterol.

The only reason it does not raise glucose is simply because it is not glucose, but fructose, but both are sugars and have the same drawbacks. In fact, excess of fructose is more harmful than glucose (the metabolic pathway is poorly controlled), so it is being discontinued.

Sugar-free chocolate, with sweeteners

Currently there are many chocolates that incorporate in their composition sweeteners without calories instead of added sugars. This is a good option to avoid excess sugars from the diet, but it should be noted that sweeteners, such as mannitol, erythritol and other polyols, in excess are laxatives. So, as with chocolate with sugar, you can not overeat.

Cocoa powder label for children
Cocoa powder label for children, which dissolves in milk. It contains 11 g sugar per serving that amounts 2 tablespoons (14 g) That is about 78 % sugar. It is preferable not to sugar the milk.

Types of chocolate powder

Chocolate powder is marketed to dilute in cold or hot milk and take in breakfast or snack. In hot chocolate, flours or starches are added to thicken. Most cocoa powder on the market contains more than 50% sugar, even some brands reach 75% sugar. Therefore it is not a recommendable product.

On the one hand it is an expensive product, because it contains mainly sugar (it is the first ingredient).

In addition, these products often use unfair advertising because they use toys and drawings to attract the attention of children. It is a common practice that some of these brands make announcements to show the new toys they carry in their package, mainly from the cartoon series of of the moment, instead of announcing cocoa powder.

Adding 2-3 tablespoons of this cocoa powder to the milk contributes to adding 2-3 tablespoons of sugar, which is not recommended daily.

For this reason, other options are more advisable, such as using pure cocoa or changing breakfast for yogurt with fruit, fruit smoothies with yogurt, sandwich, porridge, etc., without resorting to sugared milk every day

White chocolate: Is it chocolate?

White chocolate lovers should know that it is not healthy or natural, but a pure mixture of lots of sugar with lots of milk fat and a little cocoa butter (sometimes even with no cocoa). In no diet is recommended a product based on sugar and pure fat, so if consumed should be on an occasional basis.

* Related information: Properties of chocolate

punto rojo More information on cocoa and chocolate in the listing above

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This material is for informational purposes only. In case of doubt, consult the doctor.
"Botanical" is not responsible for damages caused by self-medication.

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