Well, not quite. But it’s not necessarily a dessert either! Believe it or not, chocolate has many health benefits that most people may not be aware of. Raw unsweetened cocoa powder, straight from the cocoa bean, is packed full of antioxidants and is known to reduce risk of heart disease, obesity, high cholesterol, stroke, and type 2 diabetes. Most cocoa powders tend to have the cocoa butter removed, making it lower in fat. Chocolate can also enhance brain function, prenatal health, exercise performance, and overall health status. In addition, cocoa is a powerhouse of minerals such as iron, copper, magnesium, and calcium, which help to empower the blood and bones. No wonder we recommend drinking chocolate milk after an intense workout!
So then why do we associate chocolate with all these drawbacks, such as weight gain, diabetes, acne, and a dental disaster? Well by itself, raw cocoa is much lower in fat than a Hershey’s chocolate bar and contains no added sugar. What we add to this natural treat makes it dangerous. Milk chocolate is loaded with sugar, has far more fat added, and is the real culprit behind the negative opinion we have for this beloved bean. Dark chocolate, on the other hand has a much lower fat content, far less added sugar, and a higher level of antioxidants.
While most milk chocolate candies range anywhere from 30-50% cocoa, make it a goal to find a brand that is at least 70% raw cocoa for maximum health benefits! Check the label for an ingredients list and total added sugars. The lower, the better. So next time you are craving a chocolatey snack, try to skip the sugar-packed Snickers and instead reach for the healthier option of a dark chocolate bar!