It's difficult to find anyone in this world who doesn't like chocolate. From sweet milk chocolate to bitter dark chocolate, chocolate satisfies everyone's taste buds with infinite ways to eat, make, and enjoy it. While some may deprive themselves of the joy of eating chocolate, others cannot wait to treat themselves with a delicious piece.
Despite its sugar and fat, the truth is that chocolate has qualities that can bring us many health benefits. Just remember to control your daily consumption of chocolate, ideally from one to one and a half ounces per day and try to lean towards chocolate with a higher concentration of cocoa, or try pink chocolate, which may be an even healthier alternative to dark chocolate. See below for the best ways to eat your favorite treat as we've consulted experts on how to consume chocolate in a healthier and more enjoyable way.
Want to maintain healthy habits, but can't give up chocolate? Dark Chocolate is the go-to choice, especially dark chocolates with at least 65% cocoa. Nutritionist Dr. Marcella Garcez says that cocoa is rich in polyphenols, which are substances that have various health benefits such as being rich in antioxidants, protecting against damage to our cells' DNA, and pain-relieving, antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory and anticarcinogenic effects.
According to Dr. Aline Lamaita, the flavonoids present in cocoa gives dark chocolate health benefits like helping blood circulation, preventing the formation of fatty plaque inside arteries and controlling blood cholesterol levels. Additionally, dermatologist Dr. Paola Pomerantzeff explains that dark chocolate does not cause pimples and is actually a great ally to our skin's health as its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties help to provide brightness and hydration to our skin tissue. These properties also help to protect against damage from UV rays, preventing wrinkles!
However, pay attention to your chocolate intake! Even if you choose dark chocolate, it is important to be careful about excessive consumption because it still has sugar and saturated fats regardless of the concentration of cocoa.
Unfortunately, milk chocolate does not possess any health benefits because it does not have a significant amount of cocoa. Milk chocolate must be composed of at least 35% cocoa for it to reap the benefits of cocoa. Since it contains large amounts of sugar and fat, milk chocolate has a high glycemic index and be harmful to our health when consumed in excess, leading to things like diabetes, increased cholesterol, and damage to the skin (like increased acne and inflammation).
Avoid white chocolate at all costs! White chocolate causes inflammation and increases the skin's oiliness. “It is made from cocoa butter, and is basically made up of fat, sugar, milk and flavorings," says Dr. Marcella Garcez. "Because it is not made with cocoa mass but with the fat of the fruit, white chocolate should not even be considered a chocolate, but rather just a candy."
White chocolate is high in calories and rich in fats, and has no function besides causing damage to our health (and being delicious). "Some white chocolates do not even have any trace of cocoa in their composition, and are instead produced only with hydrogenated vegetable oils, the consumption of which results in the increase in levels of bad cholesterol and the reduction of good cholesterol," explains Dr. Aline Lamaita.
But if you are one of the people who appreciate a piece of good white chocolate, then don't completely give it up. Instead, opt for the sugar-free versions, though don't forget that it is still rich in fats and may even bring a higher concentration of lipids.
If eating dark chocolate is out of the question for you, it is worth betting on pink chocolate as a healthier alternative. Made from the ruby cocoa seed, Pink chocolate has a natural pink color and stands out for its distinctive flavor that's more creamy, fruity, and sweet, with a slight citrus touch.
''It has a greater amount of polyphenols than conventional chocolate, as the flavonols present in the ingredient are retained until the final product," explains Dr. Marcella. "This is due to the special fermentation process through which the seeds pass so that they do not lose their flavor and natural color."
Another healthy option to replace milk and white chocolate is dark chocolate combined with oilseeds such as hazelnuts, walnuts and peanuts. Despite being high in calories, oilseeds have nutrients like omega-3 that help control cholesterol and have anti-inflammatory properties, which improve circulation and cognitive performance.
However, dermatologist Dr. Paola Pomerantzeff points out that people with oily skin should avoid them. Oilseed chocolate stimulates the production of oil by the sebaceous glands and consequently cause the appearance of blackheads and pimples.