Debra Lynn Dadd

High Cocoa Dark Chocolates

QUESTION:

I'm wondering if you could recommend a dark chocolate bar plain that is at least 74% cocoa. I don't know how to "read" the labels to tell. For instance this Hershey's Dark Chocolate I have here Ingredients: Sugar, chocolate, cocoa butter etc. I would think cocoa would be at the top of the list?

I want to try to put this article to the test:

Mon Dec 19, 7:07 PM ET

A few squares of dark chocolate every day might cut the risk of serious heart disease by helping to stave off the hardening of arteries, according to a study published on Tuesday.

Researchers from University Hospital in Zurich studied 20 male smokers, who are at greater risk of hardening arteries characteristic of coronary heart disease, to see the effects of dark and white chocolate on arterial blood flow.

The group, who were asked to abstain from eating foods rich in antioxidants for 24 hours, were given 40 grams 2 ounces of chocolate to eat.

After two hours, ultrasound scans revealed that dark chocolate -- made up of 74 percent cocoa solids -- significantly improved the smoothness of arterial flow, whilst white chocolate, with four percent cocoa, had no effect, the study published in Heart magazine said.

The researchers, who said further studies were needed, suggested that the possible benefits arose from the antioxidants in dark chocolate.

"Only a small daily treat of dark chocolate may substantially increase the amount of antioxidant intake and beneficially affect vascular health," they said.



POSTED BY C. W. :: TENNESSEE USA :: 01/24/2006


DEBRA'S ANSWER:

The percentage of cocoa is listed on the label for dark chocolates that contain significant cocoa. Not on Hershey's because I don't think they make one with that high a percentage. If sugar is listed first, then there is more sugar than cocoa, which means the cocoa is less than 50%. If you are looking in a regular supermarket for a high cocoa chocolate, check the labels of good "bittersweet" chocolate bars. These will be sweetened with refined white sugar, but a very small amount.

I suggest going to a good natural food store in your area and look for a natural brand. Dagoba 74% bittersweet is one that I know meets your needs.

Natural brands are often made with organically grown cocoa and sweetened with evaporated cane juice the whole sugar direct from the cane unrefined instead of refined white sugar. You might also try cacao nibs, which are 100% chocolate and no sugar. These taste a little odd at first, but I like them. They would be the best if eating chocolate for the health reasons you cite above.

Another option is to mix up your own chocolate using cocoa powder. You can mix a little with butter, cocoa butter, or coconut oil and any sweetener you want.

For more on chocolate, visit Debra's List: Organic, Shade Grown, Fair Trade Chocolate and especially read my article "Choosing Healthy Chocolate".

Debra :-)


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