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
Make sure the chocolate bar you’re eating is fresh. Upon inspecting the bar, you should find a glossy surface and a dark color with reddish-black undertones. Chocolate that is stored improperly will have a visible “bloom,” which either looks like grayish-white blotches and streaks on the chocolate or causes the chocolate to feel rough. Exchange it for a fresh bar.
There are other ways to consume chocolate besides bars. In fact, a 2005 USDA study found that unsweetened cocoa powder contained the highest concentration of beneficial compounds of all chocolate products. However, as with chocolate bars, not all cocoa powder is created equal. Many cocoa powders are “Dutch processed” or “alkalized” to reduce their acidity, but this processing also reduces their antioxidants and phenols. Natural cocoa powder provides the most benefits.
But what is one to do with this bitter powder, bearing in mind that mixing it with milk will take away its health-enhancing properties? If you’re brave, you could make an unsweetened chocolate beverage by stirring a heaping teaspoon of the stuff into 8 ounces of boiling water. Drink it much like you drink coffee—or even mix it with your coffee, which provides its own set of antioxidants!
The Dark Side of Chocolate
When choosing a chocolate product, consider looking for an organic certification. Over 30 different pesticides are used when growing cocoa beans, which are one of the world's most heavily sprayed crops. Certified Organic chocolate is made from cocoa plants that were not sprayed with chemical pesticides or herbicides, which could leave behind a residue in your chocolate.
Although your choice in chocolate bars can’t change the world, and should not replace other healthy foods, it can be a healthy treat if you choose wisely. Refer the following cheat sheet before your next trip to the chocolate shop: