dove_dark_chocolate_bars

  In an ongoing search for the truth in health and fitness I have subjected myself to many terrible things. I believe in experimenting with theories and research before I pass the information on to my clients.  This is not one of those times. My friend Jenny Johnson, who has the awesome title of Independent Chocolatier, was educating me on how to know if your chocolate is healthy or not and I thought you might find it as interesting as I did.  My personal research continues on this subject, but here is Jenny's chocolate education moment. The truth is that the percentage of cocoa (or cacao) in dark chocolate really doesn't matter.  Well, only if you enjoy eating very bitter chalk, then the higher the better.   I know what you are thinking, "I've always heard dark chocolate was good for me".  Don't worry, its level of goodness has not changed.   First, let's find out the difference between cocoa and cacao and then we'll talk about why it's not so important.   Cacao generally refers more to the raw, unprocessed form of chocolate.  While cocoa generally refers to the processed form of chocolate.  A helpful definition can be found here:  http://noshon.it/tips/the-difference-between-cocoa-and-cacao/.  Many times, though, you will see the terms used interchangeably.   What makes dark chocolate good for you anyway?  It is something called cocoa flavanols.  Cocoa flavanols, when consumed, can help support your circulatory system.   So if cocoa flavanols are in cocoa, the more cocoa you eat, the more flavanols you are getting, right?  You can see where the idea of eating a higher cocoa content came from.   But here's what matters.  The percentage of cocoa flavanols that are left after processing depend greatly upon the method used to process the cacao.   Think of it this way-does a vegetable that is boiled to mush have the same vitamins and minerals as one that is raw or that has been minimally cooked?  The same is true with flavanols.   How the cacao is processed determines the cocoa flavanols that are retained.  The real benefit comes from the percentage of flavanols, not the cocoa percentage.   Flavanol content is not carried on chocolate bar packaging so it is almost impossible to know exactly what you are getting.  However, there is one company that uses a patented process that retains more of the cocoa flavanols during processing.  That company is Mars® and the process is known as Cocoapro®.  You can read about the process here: http://www.cocoapro.com/.   Dove® chocolate is made by Mars® using this process and Dove® dark has been used in medical research.  If you enjoy reading clinical trials, you can find a lot of information here: http://www.healthycocoa.com/.   Occasionally they do look for study participants.  I've thought of applying but I might have an unfair advantage 🙂   So the next time you spring for a chocolate bar, unless you want bitter chalk, find something that is pleasing to the palette.  I just go for a Dove® dark bar.  I find it pleasing.  All the flavanols are just a bonus.  
Do you have more questions about chocolate? Are you like me and now you want to go buy some chocolate? You can contact Jenny at huntsvillehotchocolates@gmail.com and she would be happy to help.