Shopping with The Holistic Dietitian: Chocolate

Shopping with The Holistic Dietitian: Chocolate

I was asked by a participant of my RESTART® class about what to look for when shopping for chocolate (for post-RESTART, of course!). So, I obliged and took a trip out to Central Market to drool over chocolate in the chocolate aisle. In my previous yogurt blog post, I laid out the "ideal" and "standard" options along with a list of what to avoid. I will follow the same fashion in this post.

Chocolate can actually be a superfood in that it is a healthy, nutrient- and antioxidant-rich food, but it's important to know what to look for when shopping. Many chocolates in the store can be considered counterfeit and lack much of the nutrients it possessed when it was in it's true state as cacao. So let's talk chocolate!

IDEAL

First choice: choose chocolate from a chocolatier that you trust. Don't worry, I know just the one!

Please meet Amy and Mike Bohn of Amy's Chocolates. Amy is also a nutritionist and wanted to create a "guilt-free pleasure" of chocolate that would contain highest quality and all natural ingredients. Mike tells us a little bit about the benefits of their chocolate while also providing insight as to how store-bought chocolate is created:

"Amy's chocolate is created by making a high antioxidant, nutrient rich chocolate, preserving the powerful antioxidants natural to the cacao fruit.  (The vast majority of chocolate, found at a store, is made in a manner that typically removes most of the naturally powerful health properties of the cacao).  Amy's chocolate is estimated at 8X that of traditional dark chocolate.  Using all natural ingredients, making this super food truly healthy, beneficial, and delicious!  Our chocolates are high antioxidant, using fair trade cacao powder from Ecuador.  It is raw, organic, cold-pressed, and unprocessed.  This preserves the most powerful antioxidant in the world (the cacao fruit)."

I trust that Amy and Mike know what they're doing. Mike also explained to me that many chocolate companies will use a base chocolate, melt it down, and add their own ingredients. Amy makes hers from scratch, so you know that she has overseen production every step of the way to ensure the highest quality remains. Amy's Chocolate can be found at ROCK Farmers Market or through their website.

STANDARD

Second option: choose chocolate based on ingredients list. The shorter the ingredient list, the better. The basics that the chocolate bar may include would be cacao beans, sweetener, and possibly cocoa butter. To put it simply, look for the darkest chocolate bar available (70% or higher). If you're avoiding dairy, there are plenty of chocolates that are dairy-free, just be sure to read the label carefully. Try to find ethically traded chocolate made with unroasted, organic cacao beans. For the sweetener, best choices would be honey, maple syrup, or coconut sugar. I haven't been able to find any in stores with honey or maple syrup but did find quite a few with coconut sugar.

 

What to avoid

- waxes
- fillers
- refined flours
- refined sugars
- soy lechitin
- sugar alcohols
- GMOs
- emulsifiers