Photo by Akico
Chocolate is such a controversial topic, with new contradictory studies and anecdotes being published regularly.
So the question at this point really comes down to this: are you eating chocolate because you like it and you feel good when you eat it, or are you doing it because you think it’s healthy?
Keep reading to find out whether there is such a thing as healthy chocolate… and then I’ll encourage you to choose whether to eat chocolate or not based on your own feelings about it.
Want a Healthy Heart and Long Life? Eat Chocolate.
But not just any chocolate! I think it’s important to highlight the benefits of chocolate without getting sucked into the hype of chocolate marketers… especially those companies that use lots of fillers and give you so little “real chocolate”.
Here are a few snippets that might encourage you to pursue healthy chocolate as part of a joyful lifestyle.
Jeanne Calment is the longest documented living woman in the world. She lived to be 122, which in itself might seem a little insane.
The really incredible part is that she claims her long life is due to eating and applying olive oil to her skin, drinking port wine, and eating nearly 1 kilo of chocolate per week. Now that’s a LOT of chocolate. Read her story here.
Recently, a friend and colleague of mine Carlene Monson sent me a sampler of healthy chocolates, and shared a very interesting story with me. Her husband started eating healthy chocolate and a few months later had his blood pressure and cholesterol tested again. The results were great, his doctor was amazed at how much better both his numbers were.
They’ve got chocolate to thank for these changes. Not just any chocolate though, but healthy chocolate that is cold pressed and packed with antioxidents. Keep reading to find out more about healthy chocolate.
Got Chocolate Cravings?
I want to emphasize that chocolate cravings are definitely a real phenomenon. Let’s look at what happens when you eat chocolate.
First you experience a shift in mood because chocolate releases feel good brain chemicals. You may also experience satisfaction from the mix of fat and sugar, great texture and taste.
On top of that you may be eating chocolate to supplement your diet unknowingly. I see it time and again: women eat more chocolate at certain times during the month when their hormones are fluctuating. Chocolate is high in magnesium which is important before or during a woman’s menstruation.
If you feel like your chocolate cravings are out of control you might want to shift the type of chocolate you are eating to a more pure form. It might be your body crying out for more of the minerals in chocolate but getting too many fillers instead. You might also need help managing your cravings.
What is Raw Chocolate?
Photo by Nick Hobgood
Raw chocolate, also commonly know as raw cacao or even raw cocoa, is basically cold pressed cacao beans.
The Theobroma Cacao tree is a small evergreen tree that grows in tropical regions of the world. The photo to the right shows the cacao pod or fruit, which contains the cacao beans that are used to make chocolate.
Raw chocolate is essentially the cacao beans ground down to a powder, or sometimes also sold as nibs. You can also get your hands on cold pressed cacao butter, which is the healthy-oil part of the bean.
David Wolfe spoke at great length about raw chocolate and the benefits of eating chocolate for minerals. I’ve definitely felt the effect of eating healthy chocolate in my life, and must admit that it’s something I choose to enjoy regularly.
The Difference Between Dark Chocolate and Raw Chocolate
Cacao Beans – Photo by Chrissy Gombos
The difference between raw chocolate and “regular” dark chocolate is that it has not been heated.
Traditional “candy bar” chocolates contain very little cacao and in fact are mostly fillers. Some of the worst aspects of regular chocolates is that they are filled with sugar and allergens like dairy, soy, and other unrecognizable filler products.
If you’re going to eat chocolate that isn’t raw (in a pinch or because you can’t get your hands on raw chocolate) then definitely make sure it is dark chocolate. Dark chocolate is by far a better choice than a sugary “cheap” substitute.
Dark chocolate is generally made with cacao that has been processed with heat, which is what is called “dutched” chocolate. This process helps the cacao powder hold together as what we commonly know as the chocolate bar “feel”.
With that in mind, I’ve seen the best results when eating truly raw chocolate. You might be wondering how you can eat cacao powder… certainly not by the dry spoonful, right?!
Well with raw chocolate powder and raw cacao butter you can make your own raw chocolate fudge, cookies, brownies, and shakes. You can also purchase premade raw chocolate bars that contain far more actual cacao than any other bars out there on the market.
Where to Buy Raw Chocolate
I’ve got a few raw chocolate recipes in my free ebook called “28 Desserts You Can Eat Every Day“. You’ll need some basic raw chocolate ingredients, and here they are:
- Navitas Naturals Raw Chocolate Powder: This is my go-to raw cacao powder for making smoothies, brownies, and chocolate puddings too.
- Organic Raw Chocolate Nibs: If you’re looking for “chocolate chip” alternatives, this is what you need. Crunchy and great to add a different texture to raw ice creams and trail mix.
- Raw Cacao Butter: If you’re looking to make your own decadent raw chocolates or raw fudge, then this is the healthy fat of the cacao that you’re looking for.
- Raw Cacao Powder by Ultimate Superfoods: Although I’m a big fan of Navitas, I’ve recently tried the Ultimate Superfoods brand and I gotta say I’m loving this cacao powder. It’s got a slightly different taste and texture and I’m really loving it.
Or, if you want to go straight for the raw chocolate bars and truffles, these are some of my favorites:
- Gnosis Simplicity Bar: Gnosis is a small raw chocolate company, and all their chocolates are hand made. Super double yum!
- Dark Cacao Raw Truffles: These raw truffles by UliMana are so delicious it’s almost sinful.
- Coconut Raw Chocolate Truffles: The coconut variety is another crowd pleaser.
- Sacred Chocolate Bar: These super cute looking chocolates are made with maple sugar and David Wolfe approved. ;)
Do You Love Chocolate?
Leave a comment below and let me know whether you love chocolate or not. I know chocolate is not for everyone – it’s toxic for dogs, and my boyfriend likes to joke that he must be a dog because he can’t stand chocolate.
Take this article with a grain of salt and check in with your heart at this point.
If eating chocolate doesn’t appeal to you, or you feel jittery and stressed after you eat it, then it’s not for you. On the other hand if you feel good when you eat chocolate, then keep doing what works for you. We’re all different!
So are you more chocolate or vanilla?