Chocolate has a fantastic flavor and texture – it’s no surprise that it’s an essential treat for many of us. So why not choose the best chocolate when you’re at the store? But don’t buy too much of it! Nothing is healthy in excess, and you don’t want to gain weight or putting your health at risk.
Chocolate has been a big part of our lives ever since childhood. It comes in a large variety of flavors, and it can vary from white to light brown, brown or deep dark. Some of the bars have surprises inside, like dried fruit, orange zest, and crushed nuts. You can usually find the chocolate in two forms: bars or candies.
When you discover, as a child, chocolate shaped like animals, cars, coins, or eggs, nicely packed in golden or colored tin foil, you fall in love for life. We grow up with chocolate, and we develop a sincere friendship with it. How many times did you have a horrible day and you used your chocolatey friend to lift your mood?
During adulthood, you may start wondering what the best chocolate is for you? A pleasant taste isn’t synonymous with good for your health. Most health news sites say that the best chocolate is the dark one. But there are many brands available out there, and not all of them are created equal. Some are better than others, and their quality depends on the ingredients and processing methods. So how can you choose the best chocolate?
How to choose the best chocolate
The first thing to do when you want to pick the best chocolate is to think what you need it for that particular time. Do you want to eat it? Eat it and lose weight? Cook with it? If you want it as a dessert, then you should choose dark chocolate, which is your best option for losing weight and for your overall health.
Dark chocolate is produced by adding fat and sugar to cocoa. Usually, the simplest way to assess if your chocolate is ‘dark’ or not is to select one with a 70 percent or higher total cocoa content, says Authoritynutrition.com. Dark chocolate is well known for its potent antioxidant activity, which is higher than many high-antioxidant fruits like blueberries and acai berries.
It doesn’t matter if you’re choosing your chocolate carefully because you’re on a diet or want to have a healthier life – those reasons lead to the same choice. What you have to do is this: choose dark chocolate made with as few ingredients as possible.
The first ingredient on the label is the one present in the highest quantity in your chocolate. So, the best chocolate always has chocolate liquor or cocoa listed as the first ingredient. There may be several other forms of cocoa listed, such as cocoa powder, cocoa nibs and cocoa butter, but all of these are acceptable additions to dark chocolate.
With or without sugar?
Sugar may seem like a ‘necessary evil’ in chocolate. It’s often added to dark chocolate to balance out its bitter taste, and that’s normal, as long as the producer doesn’t overdo it. It’s rare to find a dark chocolate that doesn’t have added sugar, and if you find it, you’re probably not going to like it.
Keep the first rule in mind: Cocoa should be listed first on the ingredients list, and not sugar! Better yet, choose a bar that has sugar last on the package. You should also know that the higher the cocoa percentage, the lower the sugar content will be.
Lecithin is one of those optional ingredients in dark chocolate, but it’s used quite often because it keeps the cocoa and cocoa butter from separating and helps blend their flavors. Lecithin is a fat that is essential in the cells of the body, and you can find it in many foods, including soybeans and egg yolks, so you may see it listed as soy lecithin on the label. Usually, they add it in small amounts in chocolate, and you shouldn’t worry about it.
So, a quality type of chocolate should be dark, with 70 percent or more cocoa content, which is labeled first. Lecithin should be at the end of the ingredient list. If you want the best chocolate, try to avoid trans fats (noted as hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oil), milk solids, corn syrup, and soy solids (except lecithin, for the reasons we stated above), artificial sweeteners, and colorings. If you want flavored dark chocolate, choose one that is organic, because that way you can be sure the flavors are not artificial.
Being so strict when you buy chocolate won’t always be possible because you’ll probably have days when you crave a sweeter or creamier version. But here you have some excellent guidelines you should keep in mind for an everyday healthy lifestyle.
Find out below how to melt chocolate.
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