Dr. Kevin Campbell appears every Wednesday morning on WNCN Today. He will also provide a special one-minute guide to healthy living each week for WNCN.com.
Here, Dr. Campbell gives you five tips for choosing a chocolate that will provide benefit:
- Pick a chocolate that is at least 70 percent cocoa mass – Chocolate is made from beans of the cacao tree which contain impressive phytochemicals known as polyphenols which imparts antioxidant properties. A small square of dark chocolate contains twice the polyphenol content of a glass of red wine and about as much as a cup of green tea.
- Real versus candy – The fat in chocolate should be in the form of cocoa butter and not from fillers such as oil of palm, coconut oil, hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated fats. In poorer quality chocolate, the cocoa butter is removed and replaced with these cheaper unhealthy fats or oils. Stearic acid, the main fatty acid in cocoa butter, although saturated, has a neutral effect on cholesterol.
- The first ingredient should be cocoa – Also known as cocoa liquor, cocoa mass or cake. Not sugar. Steer clear of those with natural flavors, hydrogenated oils, or soy. When dairy products are added to chocolate, this adds extra fat and inhibits the body's absorption of the powerful antioxidants.
- Avoid chocolate that has been Dutch processed – Chocolate which has been Dutch Processed, the treatment of the cocoa powder with alkaline salts to reduce the bitter taste, removes many of the antioxidants. Raw chocolate is the most healthy.
- Look for Fair Trade and Organic – Organic Chocolate does not contain any chemicals from fertilizers or toxins from pesticides. Fair Trade is your best option when it comes to buying chocolate that is slavery-free. It also provides the best guarantee that a significant portion of the money you spend will go towards improving the communities where the cocoa was produced.