The UK is one of the biggest chocolate-consuming countries in Europe. In fact, we’re ranked the seventh highest chocolate eaters in the world with 56% of British adults eating chocolate more than once a week.
However as more and more people are prioritising fitness and wellbeing, they want to eat foods that taste good - but don’t negatively impact their waistline or their health. So does chocolate have the right ingredients?
The short answer is yes.
Made from the seed of the cacao tree, chocolate is one of the best sources of antioxidants around. Rich in flavanols, like catechin and epicatechin, as well as in phenolic acids and anthocyanins chocolate can help to support the immune system, reduce inflammation, boost cardiovascular health and even improve brain function.
How is chocolate made?
Chocolate is made from raw cacao nibs which are crushed pieces of cacao beans. These are ground up to get cocoa paste (or cocoa liquor). The cocoa solids are what ‘s left once the cocoa fat, or butter is removed from the cocoa paste. When the cocoa solids are dried, you get cocoa powder.
Which is best: Dark or milk chocolate?
The purer and darker the chocolate, the better the health benefits. Dark chocolate that’s high in cocoa solids is healthier than milk or white chocolate. Dark chocolate can have anything from 50 to 90% cocoa solids, while milk chocolate is typically just 10 to 30%. Hames stocks dark chocolate bars topped with cocoa nibs - perfect for people who love dark chocolate, and we also make dark chocolate neapolitan chocolates which are great for sharing between dark chocolate aficionados.
For some people, however, dark chocolate is an acquired taste, and they may feel it’s too strong or bitter for them compared to milk chocolate.
To get real health benefits from chocolate we should eat more of the dark cocoa solids found in dark chocolate. This can offer:
The antioxidants in dark chocolate can help to lower bad cholesterol and prevent the build-up of plaque on artery walls. The flavanols in the chocolate can help lower blood pressure and improve blood flow. Dark chocolate can also lower the risk of getting heart disease.
An energy boost
Theobromine is a compound found in dark chocolate which has similar effects to caffeine when it comes to providing you with an energy boost, as well as lift the mood and make you more alert.
Best form of chocolate for diabetics
Since it’s lower in sugar dark chocolate, when eaten in moderation, is a better option for diabetics.
Milk chocolate has its good points too!
Milk chocolate provides lots of micronutrients, since it’s made with milk and contains lots of calcium as well as small amounts of zinc, Vitamin A, Vitamin K, iron and potassium. It contains antioxidants too, just lower amounts than dark chocolate. Eating chocolate is one of life’s joys too, and what makes us happy, triggering the release of serotonin in the brain!
Chocolate, when eaten in moderation can deliver tangible health benefits. Hames stock a wide range of dark chocolate products from dark chocolate bars and hot chocolate flakes to dark chocolate bombs, as well as a number of vegan options. Our products are sustainably sourced too, so buying our chocolate products makes people feel good about purchasing them.