All chocolate can be enjoyed in moderation as part of a balanced diet. However, dark chocolate is often seen as a healthier alternative to milk and white chocolate - here’s why.
- Cocoa beans contain phytochemicals such as flavonoids which can have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects. Research suggests that it is these flavonoids which may help reduce the risk of a stroke and have cardioprotective effects.
- The higher the percentage of cocoa solids in the chocolate, the higher the flavonoids content. Dark chocolate contains more of these flavonoids in comparison to milk chocolate, which has less and white chocolate which has none.
- Dark chocolate tends to be higher in fat but lower in sugar in comparison to white and milk chocolate.
Remember, over-indulging means lots of calories, fat and sugar. Our nutritionists recommend that you stick to one or two small squares after tea for a little treat, and try to buy dark chocolate which has a 70% cocoa content or higher, like a bar of The Best 72% Cocoa dark chocolate.
Tips for introducing dark chocolate to your diet
If you find it hard to control chocolate portions, try these tips which will help you carefully incorporate dark chocolate into meals and snacks instead:
- Stir 1 tbsp of high quality cocoa powder in your porridge to give you that chocolatey fix in the morning
- If you crave chocolate at breakfast time, grate some dark chocolate over a non-sugary cereal
- Try dark chocolate chips as a pancake topping (view recipe), with fruit and natural yogurt to help you balance your diet
- For dessert, melt some dark chocolate and drizzle it on anything you fancy - from meringues fruit or popcorn
- Make some chocolate raisins to snack on by melting dark chocolate, mixing in a handful of raisins and letting them set
- Blitz it in a smoothie - try adding cocoa powder, or couple of pieces of chopped dark chocolate, to your smoothie - this can also work well as a ‘mask’ for greens like kale or spinach if you’re not so keen on their flavours. Check out our Smoothie Selector and make your own recipe.
- Drink it up - heat up a cup of warm semi skimmed milk and add a good quality tablespoon of cocoa powder for a sweet treat. Alternatively, use a good quality dark drinking chocolate.
Source used: Katz, D., Doughty, K. and Ali, A (2018). Cocoa and Chocolate in Human Health and Disease. [online]. NCBI. Available at:https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4696435/ [accessed 22 Feb.2018].