Dark Chocolate! Can it be good for you?

Today on the Slice of Health show, the discussion is about the ultimate indulgence – Dark Chocolate! Can it be good for you? Or not as good as people say?
The expert guests on the show are Nitin Chordia of Cocoa Treats, and Shiny Esther, a reputed nutritionist.
Nitin has just returned from Germany where he was on the jury of the international chocolate awards. He talks about how chocolate is to be consumed, and says wine and chocolate are a natural pair, but people are now experimenting by pairing it with beer and coffee too. At the awards, the jury had to taste about 75-80 brands of fine chocolate to be tasted and judged, all within 2 days. To cleanse the palate between tastings, they drink water and eat plain cooked polenta (rava).
Nitin’s logic on chocolate is that the cocoa bean is a fruit. Closest example for comparison is the custard apple. When you eat a custard apple, you eat the pulp and throw away the seeds, whereas with the cocoa fruit, it’s the opposite. There is absolutely nothing unhealthy in actual pure chocolate, but it’s what’s added to it that brings in the health concerns. Dark chocolate has 60% and above cocoa content while milk chocolate has only about 30-40%, so the amount of fat and sugar in the latter is a lot more.
A lot of manufacturers tend to add excess sugar and additives in chocolate when they want to hide the lower quality of the bean.
Good imported dark chocolate bars have not yet come to India, but the good base chocolate required for making them is imported, and local chocolatiers have begun using that to make good quality chocolates.
When asked where we can get our hands on these chocolates in Chennai, Nitin directs us to a store called Gourmei Market, which has a collection of all of these chocolate brands.
When you have a good quality chocolate, your body temperature will be sufficient to melt it easily. This means there are fewer chemicals that go into it’s making.
Nitin tells us that the best way to experience good chocolate is to bite it a little, make it pasty in your mouth, and let it settle on your palate. This way it stays longer in your palate, in your senses and you eat less of it!
You never have to feel guilty if you’re eating good dark 70% chocolate.
Shiny Esther, the nutrition specialist gives us many more reasons to indulge in dark chocolate. It has anti oxidants that protect you at a cellular level. It helps reduce the risk of heart disease and high blood pressure. It helps clearing the bad cholesterol and increases the good essential cholesterol. It also produces endorphins in your body that makes you feel good and can even affect your mood. Even for diabetics, regular chocolate is a no-no but dark chocolate is very good for them depending on its sugar content, but only in moderation. Even Nitin didn’t know these interesting benefits!
Both the guests say it’s better to stay away from regular milk chocolate if you can and stick to good quality dark chocolate.
A Caller Antonio asks why some brands of chocolate, especially big famous international brands, have a waxy feel to tem.
Nitin clarifies that this is usually because of chemicals used in processing. Chocolate is very susceptible to these chemicals and its quality is easily affected. Jane also points out that the bigger the brand the more difficult it gets to do quality control on every bar of chocolate.
Nitin says that raw chocolate can be very good for health even for diabetics as it has very low sugar content. It’s processed in a very specific way at under 48 degrees.
Shiny tells us that like all things, there are disadvantages to dark chocolate too, especially if taken in excess. It has high caffeine content, so we must be careful not to over do it.
It has oxalates that can give you kidney stones if you have too much of it. She also advises not to have dark chocolate with milk as it kills the antioxidant property. And anyone prone to migraines should stay away from it, as it has been known to trigger migraines.
In conclusion, it seems the key to enjoying the benefits of dark chocolate lies in moderation!

Picture Courtesy : afternoonrecipes.com