By Lisa Reinhardt, Founder of Wei of Chocolate
We’ve all heard the news, “Dark chocolate is better for you than milk chocolate” – but most people, no matter how welcome that information is, still have some doubt about accepting it whole-heartedly. And rightly so. This is far from the whole story, and quite misleading.
Let’s get to the bottom of this so we can all enjoy our chocolate, and reap the many rewards.
So how do we make sure that it’s really good for us? When I considered starting Wei of Chocolate, I knew I couldn’t, in good conscience, encourage people to do something that would undermine their health. So I set to work researching what determined whether or not chocolate was actually good for you.
The results of the investigation surprised me, and may surprise you, too.
The number one factor in determining if a particular chocolate is good for you is that it be dairy-free. The reason this is key is because milk binds with the antioxidants in chocolate and doesn’t allow your body to absorb them.1 So while chocolate is naturally very high in antioxidants, the real issue is bio-availability. In order to access the bountiful health benefits in chocolate, you must check to make sure there is no dairy in it.
Several European scientific studies confirm this, including one released in August 2011 that showed the significant anti-inflammatory effects of cocoa occurred only when delivered without milk.
I can’t tell you the number of people who’ve told me: “I only eat dark chocolate,” or “I only eat chocolate that’s over 70% cacao.” Unfortunately, neither of these assure you that your chocolate is healthy. Dark does not mean dairy-free. The fact is, most dark chocolates still contain milk.
And while it may not surprise you that my childhood favorite, a certain “special dark” chocolate, contains three kinds of milk products and is only 45% cacao, even a highly respected 85% cacao bar has whole milk powder in it.
This is an ‘a-ha’ moment for many people, and actually very freeing. We knew that of course those candy bars, chocolate bunnies and Halloween candy we ate as kids didn’t do us any good. But what about our ‘adult’ chocolate? Haven’t you had that nagging feeling that you’re kidding yourself that it’s really healthy? A quick read of the ingredients will tell.
Avoid milk or any form of milk in your chocolate, and you’re well on your way to making it healthy. Milk is the greatest dividing line between healthy and non-healthy chocolate. There are others, for sure, but this is the important starting point.