A while back, I went on a chocolate farm tour in Hawaii.  I was STOKED, as I am certainly a chocolate lover!

The tour, at Steelgrass Farms in Kauai, was amazing! Not only did we taste 11, yes 11, different types of dark chocolate, but we also tasted a ton of tropical fruits native to the islands.

I think there’s a misconception about chocolate and whether or not it’s good for you, so I’d like to clear that up today.

Health Benefits of Dark Chocolate:

  • Antioxidant: A study here  showed that cacao had higher antioxidant values than blueberries or acai berries!
  • Magnesium: Ever wonder why girls sometimes crave chocolate around that time of the month? Chocolate is an excellent source of magnesium, which is a muscle relaxant, therefore helping ease the possible cramps associated with menstruating.
  • Flavanoids: There are multiple studies showing that the flavanoids in dark chocolate can help lower blood pressure and risk of heart disease.  A couple of those studies are quoted here.

Understanding the Label:

When I’m talking chocolate, I am talking DARK chocolate that is 60% cacao or more (ideally 70% or more).  I’m also talking about the chocolate that has minimal ingredients: 3-4 at best.  Here is what to look for:

  • Cacao (paste, liquor, mass)
  • Cacao butter
  • Cane juice/sugar

Often there are extra ingredients to give it some flavour.  If that’s the case, you want to make sure it’s the pure ingredient, not “natural or artificial” flavouring.  Good examples include:

  • Pure vanilla extract/beans
  • Peppermint
  • Coconut
  • Almonds

You want to avoid chocolate with milk products, and artificial colour/flavours or other additives, as you then lose a lot of the health benefits of chocolate.

Brands of Chocolate I’d Recommend:

So there you have it!  Chocolate ain’t all bad, so go ahead and indulge a little! What are your favourite brands of healthy dark chocolate?

Mandy King is a Holistic Nutritionist and Gluten Free Guru who shares her expertise with She Does The City. For recipes and nutrition tips, visit her website, HEAL. Follow Mandy on Twitter@mandyking_HEAL. Like Healthy Eating and Living on Facebook here. You can also find Mandy on Pinterest and Instagram.