Cross over to the dark (chocolate) side

At Balance Box we’ve delved into the wonderful world of chocolate in search of the answer (or justification) to the question: ‘Are there any benefits to eating chocolate?’. We found that it all depends on the approach you take. So, before you squeeze into your running shorts and steam some broccoli, you may find that chocolate can provide you with some essential nutrients.

What is it?

Dark chocolate is made purely of cacao solids, cacao butter and sugar. The minimum amount considered to provide you with the health benefits is 70% cocoa solids. Naturally, the higher the percentage the richer its health credentials but perhaps leave anything > 90% to the connoisseurs. Still, like with anything, there are exceptions. Just like coffee beans, cacao beans come in a variety of flavours.

How can I have chocolate without it having a negative impact on my health (and waistline)?

The all the time-tested advice is true – everything is moderation and quantity over quality. Balance is our expertise and chocolate should be no exception in the mix. Pay as much attention to the quality of the cocoa as the percentage of it in a bar. Choose an ethical high cocoa content bar for maximum benefits and try to let it melt in your mouth rather than chewing it – you eat less but feel more satisfied. For bonus points opt for a raw cacao bar to avoid the extraction of nutrients that can result from roasting cacao beans.

Why do Nutrition experts favour dark chocolate?

Chocolate is especially rich in certain vitamins and minerals such as iron, magnesium and zinc, perhaps a reason that cacao was given as medicine in previous centuries due to common deficiencies in people’s diets. Today we also know that it is the cacao bean that contains an antioxidant known as flavonoids. Flavonoids have been suggested to support heart health, have natural anti-inflammatory properties. It is also rich in polyphenols which may have cancer fighting properties, promote brain health and improve blood sugar levels – some say it’s the golden ticket to a healthier lifestyle.

We advise sticking to a simple winning formula – enjoy on occasion but not at every occasion. Its benefits are fantastic but it’s not one of your 5-a-day (yet!).