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Dark Chocolate Health Benefits & Our Picks for the Best Dark Chocolate Bars | Please Send Chocolate

Dark Chocolate Health Benefits & Our Picks for the Best Dark Chocolate Bars

dark chocolate health benefits

Dark Chocolate Health Benefits - Yes, Chocolate IS Good for You!

If you love chocolate but worry about it being bad for your heart or waistline, we’ve got great news for you! Consuming dark chocolate does have certain health benefits, if you follow some pretty simple general guidelines.

Awesome!

Now that we know we can eat it, which chocolate do we choose for our healthy dose of yum? Which dark chocolate tastes the best? We’ve done a little taste test of some popular dark chocolate brands that are vegan and/or gluten-free, and you can see the results below.

But First, Science

Recent studies have shown that consuming a small amount of dark chocolate every day can lower your blood pressure and cholesterol levels, and actually increase your brain power! The cocoa in dark chocolate contains flavanols, which are naturally-occurring antioxidants that are  also present in other foods we love, like tea, grapes, and apples.

A chocolate a day…

A 2017 study conducted at the University of L’Aquila in L’Aquila, Italy, “revealed that these flavanols directly impact an individual’s ability to concentrate and absorb information, leading to better information retention and understanding. Reading comprehension and recollection increases with the aid of flavanols, and individuals who eat diets rich in these compounds find it easier to focus on what they’re doing, as well.”

We're all going to be SO much more productive now. 😉

In 2014, the European Food Safety Authority approved the following health claim for cocoa products containing at least 200 mg of flavanols and meeting the qualification in dietary supplement products: “cocoa flavanols help maintain the elasticity of blood vessels, which contributes to normal blood flow.”

Yay for elastic, bendy, healthy, pliable blood vessels!

In 2010, Harvard Medical School Health reported 15 experiments and clinical trials suggested that chocolates that are cocoa-rich can reduce the inflammation related to heart disease, lowering blood pressure and reducing plaque adhesions that contribute to strokes and heart attacks, while at the same time increasing “good” cholesterol levels (HDL).

Adhesions, bad. Dark chocolate, good!

Ok, so what exactly do we need to eat to gain these dark chocolate health benefits, and how often should we eat dark chocolate?

Healthy Guidelines for Eating Chocolate

If you follow these guidelines, you'll be able to reap the benefits of the antioxidant properties of dark chocolate!

  • Choose high quality dark chocolate
  • Choose dark chocolate with at least 70% cacao content
  • Choose dark chocolate with lower sugar content - 12 g or less
  • Eat 1 oz of dark chocolate every day

And here's a handy infographic to share:

Healthy Guidelines for Eating Chocolate

Every day! Yeah, we think we can do that. And so can you – it's really ok.

What about milk chocolate, white chocolate, or ruby chocolate? Do they have the same health benefits? Unfortunately, no. When milk or other additives are added to cocoa, it dilutes the cocoa content so the flavanol health benefits are not obtained.

Are you ready for some chocolate tasting results now?

Dark Chocolate Taste Test Results

We tried 7 different popular brands of vegan and/or gluten-free dark chocolate bars, each ranging from 70% to 85% cocoa content, and here’s what we found.

Very Dark by Equal Exchange Chocolates - Organic & Fair Trade, Small-Scale Farmer Organizations

71% Cacao | 11 g Sugars | 2.8 oz Bar | Cocoa bean origin: Latin America | Tasting Notes: Smooth texture, melt-in-your-mouth, not too sweet, dark cherry notes, slightly bitter, very mild tobacco scent

Dark 70% by Green & Black's - Organic & Fair Trade

70% Cacao | 11 g Sugars | 3.5 oz Bar | Cocoa bean origin: Ghana, Brazil, India, Indonesia, Dominican Republic | Tasting Notes: Notes of vanilla, nuts, raisin. Smooth texture, medium mouth feel, nice amount of sweetness, no bitterness

Chocolate Mexicano Super Dark by Taza Chocolate - Organic & Direct Trade

85% Cacao | 6 g Sugars | 2.7 oz Discs | Cocoa bean origin: Dominican Republic, Bolivia, Haiti | Tasting Notes: Very bitter, extremely gritty, crunchy texture, dry mouthfeel, flaky (our tasters’ least favorite by unanimous vote - this is an acquired taste for the very bold and brave chocolate lover). Vegan and Gluten-free

Strong Dark Chocolate by Chocolove

70% Cocoa | 9 g Sugars | 3.2 oz Bar | Cocoa bean origin: Africa, Caribbean | Tasting Notes: Slightly bitter cocoa taste, firm bite, full mouthfeel, somewhat chalky texture

Lindt Excellence Bar by Lindt & Sprungli

70% Cocoa | 12 g Sugars | 3.5 oz Bar | Cocoa bean origin: South America, Caribbean, Ghana | Tasting Notes: Smooth, creamy, lightly sweet, mild, buttery, soft/medium texture, medium mouth feel, slight coffee undertone, hot cocoa flavor. Gluten-free

Extra Dark by Lily’s - Fair Trade - No Sugar Added

70% Cocoa | < 1 g Sugars, sweetened with Stevia | 2.8 oz Bar | Cocoa bean origin: Unknown | Tasting Notes: Rich cocoa flavor, slightly bitter, very mild sweetness, medium texture, medium bite, tobacco undertones, slightly chalky. Vegan and Gluten-free

70% Dark Chocolate by Theo - Organic & Fair Trade

70% Cocoa | 13 g Sugars | 3 oz Bar | Cocoa bean origin: Democratic Republic of Congo, Peru | Tasting Notes: Sweet introduction, smooth texture, almond, fruit & cedar notes, mildly sweet. Vegan

And the winner is…

Well, chocolate tasting is a highly subjective and personal experience, and there was no group consensus on an outright winner, but here are the top 3 overall majority picks:

  1. Lindt Excellence Bar by Lindt & Sprungli  
  2. Very Dark by Equal Exchange Chocolates
  3. Dark 70% by Green & Black’s

Overall, the 70% Lindt Excellence Bar had the most votes for favorite dark chocolate bar, followed closely by the Equal Exchange and Green & Black’s bars. TBH, you can’t go wrong with any of these three.

See more dark chocolate offerings.

We’ll be doing more dark chocolate tastings in the future so please check back and subscribe to our mailing list so you don’t miss out on future results.

Please feel free to share this post with other chocolate lovers who might appreciate it. Just click those little icons on the right side of your screen. We would appreciate it so much!

What’s your favorite dark chocolate bar? Tell us about it! Leave a comment below.

References:

https://www.theepochtimes.com/eating-chocolate-is-good-for-your-brain-and-other-body-organs-scientists-say_2876107.html?platform=hootsuite&utm_campaign=HSCampaign&fbclid=IwAR3cxz3JSBMaSDCZBiXuQgQe_xC_q2Klh-i1bm-MmqBaX3GAdkDu9JnAxkA

https://www.sciencetimes.com/articles/20246/20190416/dark-chocolate-can-help-lower-blood-pressure-studies-show.htm?platform=hootsuite&utm_campaign=HSCampaign&fbclid=IwAR20bf9f_b23V1UH8h9FhK66semkIOa-4x01DlwXEDFR7EyGtHJ-WXPu2Ao

https://www.health.harvard.edu/newsletter_article/cocoa-reduces-inflammation-associated-with-heart-disease

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flavan-3-ol#cite_note-efsa2014-20

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3648724

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