Chocolate can be an essential part of a healthy diet and beautiful skin. Dark chocolate, in particular, is rich in antioxidant flavonoids, flavonols, essential fatty acids, and a multitude of minerals. A 100 gram serving of dark chocolate can help you meet your recommended daily intake of Vitamin B6 (29%), Iron (67%), Magnesium (58%), Copper (89%), Manganese (98%), and Zinc (35%). You may enjoy reading our previous post on minerals.
When given the option between milk chocolate, white chocolate, and dark chocolate, always go dark. Milk and white chocolates contain high amounts of sugar and dairy. These chocolates may contain as little as 10% cocoa. Cocoa solids and butters are what give chocolate its health benefits. Dark chocolates typically contain 70% to 99% cocoa solids.
Health and Skin Benefits
The flavonoids found in chocolate, especially epicatechin, have been shown to be beneficial for cardiovascular health. Dark chocolate consumption may also benefit LDL levels and reduce blood pressure. The improvement in blood flow that comes with eating chocolate can also support memory, cognition, and skin health.
In this study published in the European Journal of Nutrition, people who regularly ate chocolate for 12 weeks were found to have reduced epidermal moisture loss and reported fewer sunburns. Chocolate flavonoid achieves this by increasing the skin’s microcirculation, mitigating inflammation, and protecting against UV-induced DNA damage. At the holistic level, chocolate’s ability to reduce stress hormones can have wide-reaching benefits, ranging from skin to metabolism. Stress, from cortisol and catecholamines, increases the breakdown of collagen and inhibits its synthesis. Therefore, eating a piece of dark chocolate when stressed can make you feel better while reducing signs of aging.
Milk chocolate should be avoided because of its high sugar, fat, and dairy content. Additionally, bovine (cow) dairy products are associated with causing a systemic inflammatory state and higher cholesterol levels.
Lead in Chocolate
It’s been shown that some chocolate brands contain lead, which is concerning. In general, the amount of lead in chocolate isn’t enough to cause illness. Children have a lower lead tolerance than adults. So we dug a little deeper and found this article which contains the response from various chocolate makers.
Years ago, I had the pleasure of sitting next to a geneticist on a flight. During our conversation, she explained that eating 70% or higher dark chocolate was one of the best things we could do for ourselves on a daily basis. She further explained that in the U.S., due to our obesity problem, we should consume 30 grams per day while the rest of the world could handle 100 grams. Ever since that flight I’ve been obsessed with finding the best tasting, highest quality chocolate possible.
A Few Faves
Dandelion Chocolate in San Francisco offers tours and classes on the production process of their working factory. The hot cocoa served at the end is to-die-for!
Socola Chocolatier in SF is a woman-owned company crafting the Socola brand and serving amazing coffee.
The Chocolate House in DC features local artists and a variety of chocolate brands in their tasting room
Vosges Haut-Chocolat in NY is a must-taste. Their unique flavors make it hard to resist diving into the bag on the walk back.
As a Wrapper
While traveling, I enjoy exploring chocolate shops and finding unique flavors and learning about production methods. In fact, I used to save all of my interesting chocolate wrappers in a binder until one day I found an artist named Kathryn DeMarco, who works with various materials in her artwork. I commissioned a piece where she used the chocolate wrappers to create an image of our dog, Baci. She was named after the Baci chocolates, after all, so it seemed appropriate. Since then, I’ve discontinued the practice of saving the wrappers but I still indulge in my daily ritual of eating chocolate. Most of the time I pretend I’m in Europe and eat the full 100 grams!