If you’ve seen this advertisement clip around Facebook, you know how most kids feel about dark chocolate (click image below to play):
Dark chocolate is a healthy food. It’s rich in minerals (iron, zinc, copper, manganese), antioxidants, heart-healthy flavonoids, fiber, and mood-boosting phytochemicals. But, when you eat it the way most kids like it, loaded with milk and sugar, the health benefits fade:
• Milk proteins appear to bind those good antioxidants, leaving milk chocolate (or sugary chocolate milk) less advantageous. It’s unclear how much other foods eaten with chocolate can do that, but they may to some extent. Of milk proteins, whey may bind fewer antioxidants than casein or beta-lactoglobulin. I use whey in this recipe, but collagen or other protein powders can be used if you like.
• Processed hydrogenated fats or GMO oils (corn, soy) used in making chocolate diminish the health benefits of fats that occur naturally in cacao beans.
• Processing itself (roasting, high heat, alkali treatments) can lower the amounts of beneficial flavonoids. And the lower the total cocoa content, the lower the benefits.
• Most milk chocolate is less than half cocoa; meanwhile, the darker the chocolate, the more bitter it is, and the higher content of flavonols it has.
There is another “dark” side to chocolate. It is a highly phenolic food, so kids who are avoiding food colors, dyes, artificial flavors or phenols in general may not want to go here. Enzyme products like Phenol-Assist or No-Fenol may diminish symptoms (typically, hyperactivity), if eaten with the chocolate. Dark chocolate is also notable for its tyramine content, which may trigger migraines in some. And it’s a high oxalate food, so those following low oxalate diets may want to pass.
But, if you’re imbibing, enjoy the health benefits. For pure benefit, try a 99% Lindt Excellence bar. Or, for kids who don’t like bitter, make this yummy, chocolately, hidden-assets smoothie. Use organic, high quality, unsweetened, pure cocoa powder (not cocoa mix or sweetened milk chocolate powder) for the most nourishing, beneficial version. Sweeten it with stevia drops. Bonus: Blend in raw cacao nibs as a last touch. These unprocessed chocolately bits come from the center of raw cacao beans, retaining all their perks while adding a fun crunch.