“The superiority of chocolate, both for health and nourishment, will soon give it the same preference over tea and coffee in America which it has in Spain.“
Chocolate was growing quite a reputation even back in the early 19th century. And it seems like President Jefferson was on to something believing that chocolate can both heal and nourish the body and soul. But today, 200 years later, we know a lot more about why chocolate is so good for us, particularly high-quality dark chocolate. Speaking of quality, we want to make sure we’re on the same page here: even though milk chocolate has its place in history, we’re going to focus on the benefits of dark chocolate specifically.
Much like protein, dark chocolate is a rather large topic, but the sooner you know its benefits, the sooner you’ll want to try one of the best protein cookies available. If you’re looking for a healthy cookie to buy, shop at Clean Break Foods. Our all-natural chocolate chip cookie is full of protein, low in sugar, and doesn’t sacrifice flavor for health. So if you want an indulgent protein cookie, get to know one of our key ingredients — dark chocolate.
How is Chocolate Made?
First, is it cocoa or cacao? When referring to the tree, pod, or the bean, it’s cacao. Cocoa is what is produced after the bean has been fermented, dried, and roasted (or processed).
Chocolate gets its start in the cacao tree, which is native to South America. These trees grow pods, which can range between five and 12 inches long and each pod has between 30 and 50 seeds — or cacao beans.
After the pods have been harvested, the seeds are removed and are allowed to ferment. The fermentation process lasts between two and nine days, when the beans begin to take on the recognizable chocolate color and flavor. The beans then go on to be processed, which involves slowly roasting the beans at low temperatures to further develop the flavor.
The meat of the bean (also known as nibs) is ground into a cocoa mass paste. When this paste is put under high pressure, it can produce both cocoa powder and cocoa butter. The cocoa mass can be combined with cocoa butter and sweetener to make chocolate. When making dark chocolate, it uses only cocoa mass, cocoa butter, and sugar.
One of the final steps is a process called conching, which uses a large container that blends the ingredients together to create a consistent chocolate. The final step is tempering and moulding the chocolate to turn the liquid into breakable squares.
80, 84, 90 Percent Cacao— What Does it Mean?
When shopping around for quality chocolate to snack on or a healthy cookie to buy, you’ll see that labels display a percentage of cacao in the chocolate, but does this really mean? This percentage means how much of the bar is made with pure cacao beans and cocoa butter. Generally, the higher the percentage, the more intense the flavor will be. Chocolate makers can add varying amounts of cocoa butter, which will create sweeter or more bitter chocolate.
Benefits of Dark Chocolate
If all you really want is an excuse to eat more dark chocolate, here’s why it’s good for your body. And when you have a healthy body, that can translate into a healthy soul! The recommended amount of dark chocolate is one or two ounces and can give you a range of benefits.
Get out of the way blueberries, strawberries, and blackberries — dark chocolate has even more antioxidants. If you want to fight free radicals in your body, there are a lot of foods you can snack on. Dark chocolate contains polyphenols, flavanols, and catechins, which are all organic compounds that function as antioxidants and can help fight inflammation, reduce the chance of developing cancer and neurological diseases.
We’re not suggesting that you can skip the daily multivitamin, but with dark chocolate, you’re giving your body a range of nutrients it needs. If you consume chocolate that is between 70 and 85 percent cocoa, you’ll also get:
We’re not suggesting that you fill up on a whole bar of chocolate, either. Dark chocolate, like any health food, should be consumed in moderation.
You’re probably aware of the dangers of bad cholesterol and insulin. Get in an ounce or two of quality dark chocolate and you can help reduce oxidized LDL cholesterol, lower LDL, and increase HDL. Oxidized LDL can damage tissues, including the arteries in your heart. As for insulin, dark chocolate can reduce insulin resistance, a risk factor for heart disease and diabetes.
Because dark chocolate has compounds to help fight the effects of oxidized LDL, it can also help prevent cardiovascular disease.
The compounds in dark chocolate, including flavanol, can help improve blood flow to the brain. Short term, stimulant compounds like caffeine and theobromine can help improve brain function.
What Percentage Offers the Most Benefits?
So when you look at a chocolate bar and it says 84 percent cacao, the other 16 percent is generally added sugar (a 70 percent cacao bar has 30 percent sugar). With that in mind, does the higher percentage equal a healthier chocolate? The cacao bean is what contains the flavonoids that provide the above benefits, so generally, the higher percent would mean healthier chocolate. But keep in mind that the process of making chocolate includes a lot of steps. Chocolate that has been heavily processed could lower the effectiveness of the antioxidants.
Looking for a healthy cookie to buy with high-quality dark chocolate chips?
Clean Break Foods is introducing a delicious and healthy cookie that is made with only all-natural ingredients. Our chocolate chip cookie is one of the best protein cookies, has heart-healthy coconut flour, coconut oil, coconut sugar, and traditional baking ingredients like vanilla and baking soda.
When so many “healthy” cookies you want to buy are lacking in flavor and have a heavy texture, it’s finally time that you get both nutrients and flavor! With Clean Break Foods, you can. Shop here for one of the best protein cookies and finally start indulging in a healthy cookie you love.