Not all chocolate is created equal. Many of the forms of chocolate we’ve come to love have ingredients like refined (white) sugar, milk fats, and hydrogenated oils that make the cocoa devoid of any natural health benefits. Cocoa goes through a process called “dutching” where the acidic flavor of the cocoa is neutralized, removing chocolate’s natural polyphenols. And lastly, to top it all off, it’s heated to temperatures over 100F, killing all of its antioxidant properties. This type of chocolate is high in calories, trans fats, and contributes to a strong acidic environment in your body.
But good news is…natural chocolate CAN be good! In fact natural cocoa contains high amounts of antioxidants, healthy fats, and magnesium. It works to support heart health, assists in the utilization of sugars, stimulates endorphin production, giving you a feeling of pleasure, and can assist in the formation of serotonin, acting as an anti-depressant.
The real thing
The good stuff – raw chocolate – has unbelievable levels of antioxidants, trace minerals like magnesium and iron, beta carotene, and zinc. A 2 tablespoon serving offers 9g of fiber, 4g of protein, and 0g of sugar. May I repeat: zero grams of sugar. It’s has a slight nutty flavor, making it relatively different tasting than the chocolate we’re used to but is equally if not more satisfying (and energizing to boot!).
There are many ways you can begin moving away from the processed, nutrient deficient chocolate to incorporating wholesome, healthier chocolate alternatives.
Understanding your cravings for chocolate
Since chocolate can be a strong mood balancer, and pleasure inducer, it’s no wonder so many of us run to chocolate in times of crisis. Monitoring yourself during moments when you’re inclined to eat chocolate will help you gain an awareness of what your chocolate addiction could be related to. Take note of the way you feel, what activity you’re participating in, how you feel when you eat it, and how you feel afterward.
Generally, you’ll find that you eat chocolate either because you’re constantly craving sweets, which could be linked to an incorrect level of carbohydrates, proteins or fats in your diet. Or that you tend to crave chocolate when you have a change in emotions.
This observation is good and with the guidance of nutrition expert, can lead to the first steps of understanding yourself and your nutrition on a deeper level.