Nurse Marsha Battee explains that the healthiest chocolate is DARK chocolate ONLY–not the low quality Valentine’s Day stuff at the drug store.
The media has duped you into thinking that all chocolate is good for you. To be clear, most chocolate is NOT good for you and has NO health benefit. This is especially true for the Valentine’s Day and Easter chocolates available at the supermarket or drug store.
The research about chocolate has been distorted and sensationalized. Most studies that have been published about chocolate focus on the benefits of flavanol found in cocoa. Store-bought chocolates varieties (Hershey’s, Russell Stover, See’s, and Whitman’s) contain very little (if any) of this compound. The milk chocolate and white chocolate varieties are the worst! But even dark chocolate (that is supposedly high in flavanols) varies greatly in flavanol concentration depending on the quality of the cocoa crop, harvesting methods, and manufacturing processes used. Not all dark chocolate is created the same.
Due to the various ways chocolate is made, and the lack of oversight in content concentration of flavanols or other ingredients in the preparation process, an ideal amount for dark chocolate consumption is difficult to determine. One study, targeting the effects of flavanol on blood pressure, found that 40 grams (1.4 ounces) of 74% dark chocolate daily had positive effects. However, most clinical trials find that consuming a small square (6 grams or 0.2 ounces) of dark chocolate daily is beneficial in terms of flavanol intake. Because of this, I would recommend consuming only a small amount of dark chocolate with at least 74% cocoa.
If you must satisfy your craving or give chocolates as a gift, skip those low quality milk and white chocolates. Instead, grab the >74% dark chocolate and remember brand matters. I recommend buying artisanal dark chocolate from a trusted company, like Mast Brothers or Fine & Raw. Both are committed to using high quality ingredients (Mast Brothers sails its own ship to collect raw cocoa from family farms overseas) and both pride themselves for minimally processing their products (Fine & Raw has that name for a reason). It may be bitter but the benefits sure are sweet!
If you are interested in learning more about the social implications of harvesting cocoa, watch The Dark Side of Chocolate.