The following article was written by Heinen’s Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Todd Pesek, MD.
I have good news for your sweet tooth – it’s perfectly acceptable to honor it, but in order to truly do it justice, you have to choose the right sweet fix.
Not all chocolate is created equal, so steer clear of the sugar-packed options. Instead, choose a dark chocolate with cacao as the base ingredient.
The Health Benefits of Dark Chocolate
Cacao (pronounced “cu-COW”) is made from the fermented, dried seeds of the Theobroma cacao tree.
As one of the functional foods on the Club Fx Top 100 Foods List, cacao boasts the following benefits:
- More antioxidants than most green tea
- One of the highest dietary sources of magnesium
- Contains tryptophan to support a healthy and balanced mood
- May help with reduced blood pressure, improved blood vessel health and elevated HDL (“good”) cholesterol
To enjoy these benefits, choose a chocolate made from 70% cacao. This number is typically listed on the front label of higher quality chocolate. A bit more bitter and intense in flavor, the higher the percentage of cacao, the less room there is for other not-so-good ingredients, like sugar.
Learn to Love Dark Chocolate
If you’re a fan of sweets but don’t particularly like dark chocolate, don’t worry! With a little patience and persistence, you can learn to like (and maybe even prefer) dark chocolate. It won’t happen overnight, but by making slow changes over the course of several months, you’ll start to see your taste preferences change!
Your body comes equipped with a special power- one you’ve had your entire life and use every day but may be using in the wrong way. The power is in your preferences and cravings and can be summed up in 10 words: What you “feed” your body most, it will crave most.
Yes, your body craves what you feed it most! When you consistently feed it life-giving foods like fruits, vegetables, leafy greens and functional foods such as fresh herbs, spices, fermented foods and cacao, you will develop preferences for these foods.
What’s more, your body will feel good, energized, nourished and satiated. And the real reward? Evidence of well-being will sprout, proving that your body prefers these life-giving foods.
How to Make the Transition from Milk Chocolate to Dark Chocolate
It’s probably not a good idea to go from milk chocolate to super dark overnight because your taste buds will likely hold up a collective hand in defiance. They aren’t used to bitter flavor, so be patient. Honor their preference and work your way gradually up the cacao scale over several weeks.
Start with a 55% cacao chocolate bar, then move up to 60-65%. Two tasty choices are Endangered Species 60% Caramel Sea Salt + Dark Chocolate and Equal Exchange Orange Infused Organic 65% Cacao Dark Chocolate.
After a week or so, try a square or two of a 70% bar.
If you really want to reach the top of the chocolate mountain, go for Endangered Species Strong + Velvety Dark Chocolate 88% chocolate.
Remember, what you feed your body most, it will crave. Cut yourself some slack, exercise a little patience and kindness, and start where you’re at. You’ll be amazed at the results!