I am asked this question at least three times per week: “Why exactly do I have to eat dark chocolate over milk chocolate?”
To be honest most of my life I only ate milk chocolate. My Mother would buy my sister and I See’s milk chocolate bells at the holidays and milk chocolate eggs in the springtime. I never thought much about it or was exposed to any other type of chocolate.
About 10 years ago I realized I needed to convert myself over to dark. Many of you know I have Dove dark chocolates in the office but may not have known that is how I did it. Dove dark chocolates have a rich taste and still enough sugar for those who love the sweet of milk to help the palate. Another thing I love about Dove’s is that they are self-contained and it’s easier to limit yourself to 2 if you are watching your carbs and waistline.
It is common knowledge that dark chocolate is healthier than milk but what are the 3 reasons to covert to eating only dark chocolate?
- Dark chocolate contains higher amounts of a phytochemical (something naturally found in foods that prevents disease) called flavonols. The higher the percent of dark chocolate the more flavonols. The two most prominent flavonols are called catechins and epicatechins, which are thoughts to lower inflammation in the body. A 2008 study with 5000 people who ate 2 squares of dark chocolate per day had a lower c-reactive protein, a marker in the blood that signals inflammation. In addition, flavonols can actually relax your blood vessels, which lower blood pressure and in turn lower your risk of a heart attack.
- Dark chocolate has much less sugar than milk, and the higher the percent cacao the less sugar. Eating 2 squares of dark chocolate will raise your blood sugar less than a potato or a slice of bread. Most diabetics can easily eat 2 squares and maintain good blood glucose control, so it’s a treat the body can easily accommodate.
- Dark chocolate contains more cocoa butter, which comes from the cacao bean, and is mostly monounsaturated (healthy) fat and the saturated fat called stearic acid, which has a neutral affect on health. The higher the percent cacao the better.
Transitioning to dark chocolate can take time, especially since your sweet threshold will need to be lower. However, I can assure you as a former milk chocolate lover, I can’t even eat a piece without feeling like I am eating straight sugar. I now love 85% dark chocolate but it took time. Each dark chocolate bar has a different taste and feel, much like coffee so experiment with different brands and bars.