I love chocolate! And luckily, it is now widely accepted that dark chocolate can be a healthy addition to one’s diet, as long as it’s eaten in moderation. Before you grab whatever chocolate you can get your paws on, remember that a few criteria must be met in order to reap the health benefits. First, choose a high percentage of cacao. I aim for 80% or higher. Second, always avoid high fructose corn syrup and hydrogenated oil and whenever possible choose organic. Third, be conscious of the type of sweetener. Some sugars, such as coconut sugar, have a lower glycemic index (meaning they don’t drastically affect blood sugar levels) and are therefore not as bad for you as other forms of sugar. I’m suspicious of agave and avoid it completely after reading an interesting article by Margeret Floyd. And lastly, to get the most nutritional bang for your buck (and yes, this part will drive up the cost) choose raw chocolate. According to the Sacred Chocolate website the roasting and processing of chocolate significantly depletes the health benefits, such as its impressive amount of antioxidants and its ability to elevate mood.
My absolute favorite brand is Lifeforce Chocolate. It is stone ground in California and has very pure ingredients. The base is raw organic cacao paste, cacao butter and coconut palm crystals (also known as coconut sugar, this is a low-glycemic sweetener). Creator, Chrissy Lucia, uses flavor enhancers such as nutritious lucuma and mesquite. Her chocolate bars also include superfood ingredients with fantastic benefits, such as reishi (the “queen of mushrooms” that calms the nervous system), maca (an adaptogen that improves strength, endurance and libido), camu camu (extremely high in vitamin C and works to elevate mood), among others.You can choose from five flavors: Almond & Sea Salt, Superfood Berries, Tonic Jing, Amazon Power (my favorite!) and Cool Mint. We sell this brand at Hummingbird Pilates. It’s delightful!
Coming in second is Sacred Chocolate. My favorite flavor is “Midnight” with 83% cacao. These stone-ground, raw bars have different benefits depending on their ingredients and there is even one suitable for diabetics, sweetened with Jerusalem artichoke. Each heart-shaped bar is 1.44 ounces and cost over $8. I must say, it’s worth it.
I pick this one up at Erewhon in LA but you can also buy it off their website.
I also love Flow Foods “Gogi-Maca Chocolatl” (nope not a typo!). It’s got a really rustic texture and flavor. The package has two and a half servings, at 190 calories per serving. I pick it up at Cooportunity in Santa Monica. Super-yum!
Also yummy is Gnosis “Deeply Dark” 90% raw cacao bar sweetened with coconut palm sugar. At 90% cacao, you know this one is low in sugar but it is surprisingly sweet.
Also great is Sweet Nuit. Liz Marx’s beautiful, hand crafted chocolates are 100% organic, vegan and low glycemic and raw (made at tempetures bellow 115 degrees). Liz is an artist and her chocolates, made here in Santa Monica, truly look like art!