Nutrition Articles

Be Choosy about Chocolate

Not All Chocolate is Created Equal

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A high-quality chocolate bar is fresh and naturally tastes good. Artificial flavors, colors, and preservatives aren’t necessary unless a bar falls short of these standards. Choose a chocolate that is free of unnecessary additives for a better, healthier product.

Look for Freshness
  • While it may not be eye-appealing, there is nothing dangerous with eating chocolate that has a white or grayish film on the surface. It just means the cocoa butter has separated and risen to the surface. This is called “fat bloom.”
  • The sugar in chocolate can crystallize when exposed to rapid temperature changes and humidity. It is safe to eat, but you probably won’t enjoy the grainy texture. 
  • Chocolate maintains its freshness best if wrapped tightly and stored at about 65 degrees Fahrenheit. This prevents the cocoa fat from turning rancid and developing an off-taste. Store your chocolate in a dry environment away from strongly scented foods such as onion, garlic and spices. Chocolate is best if consumed within a year of production.  
Before Unwrapping
  • If you are not a chocolate lover, leave it on the shelf. There are plenty of other ways to obtain health-promoting flavonoids.
  • If you are a chocolate lover, then balance calorie intake when having this tasty treat. Select dark chocolate that provides at least 70% cocoa solids. Currently there is not an established serving size of chocolate to help you reap the cardiovascular benefits. So for now, enjoy moderate portions of dark chocolate (no more than a 1-ounce) a few days a week. Avoid the “chewy caramel-marshmallow-nut-covered-coconut sprinkled” dark chocolate which is by no means a heart-healthy food option. ·        
  • To get more of those beneficial flavonoids, make your own chocolate milk, chocolate soy milk, hot chocolate drink, chocolate meal replacement shake or protein shake by stirring in:
    • a cocoa mix made with natural (untreated) cocoa, or    
    • natural (untreated) cocoa, plus the sweetener of your choice
  • For your individualized medical plan that incorporates chocolate…talk to your doctor or health care provider.  More research is needed to determine therapeutic recommendations, dosing, and effect of different chocolate brands.
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About The Author

Becky Hand Becky Hand
Becky is a registered and licensed dietitian with almost 20 years of experience. A certified health coach through the Cooper Institute with a master's degree in health education, she makes nutrition principles practical, easy-to-apply and fun. See all of Becky's articles.

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