dark chocolate: HOW dark?

today i want to discuss something everyone can appreciate: dark chocolate.

somehow i feel like i couldn't get away with that face...

now, i know the the darker stuff can be hard to handle at first, but trust me: once you go black, you never go back.

alright, enough of this.

the common trend in candy advertising is to go darker these days. every major candy bar has now released a new dark chocolate version – meanwhile, the media is appraising dark chocolate as a veritable health food. the intention may not be expressly stated, but the implications are there: are these new candy bars now healthier for you due to their blackness? should we fire our old convenience-store standby and switch?

it ain't right!

the obvious answer is this: neither option is very healthy. even if the chocolate casing were somehow better for your health, the insides are still terrible for you. the chocolate coating, though darker, may not be more healthy for you after all. fuelthefighter, the only non-real-life-friend i have sent to my phone, reports this bit of information:

Dark chocolate needs to be at least 75% cocoa for the flavonols to have a significant beneficial effect…
Chocolate that has undergone alkalinization or “Dutching” can have its flavonol content reduced by as much as 80%…

before we get into the implications of this, let me explain why your chocolate-related decisions just became a fucking math equation, for chrissakes.

chocolate is made out of a few ingredients: cocao solids, some sort of fat, and powdered sugar. sources tell me that the european standard for dark chocolate be made of 35% cocao solids  or more. as a point of comparison, milk chocolate is required to be only 10% cocao solids in america.

sources.

“so, that’s settled, but why should i care about flavonols?” simmer down, i’m getting to that. ” Recent research shows that chocolate can provide natural health-promoting substances called flavonoids. Since flavonoids seem to help prevent heart disease and cancer, the idea of eating chocolate sounds like a tempting and delicious way to better your health.” This article goes on to debate that no, chocolate is not a good replacement for fruits and vegetables, another good source of flavonoids.

msnbc: telling you what you already knew and calling it news since 1996

the overall point here is this: just because your chocolate bar says “dark” on it doesn’t mean it’s any better for you. even if you make sure to buy a plain bar with 80% solids, you are still eating something pretty bad for you – the only difference is that it has an extra boost of antioxidants. so, take it for what it’s worth: dark chocolate should still be a once-in-a-while indulgence, but it doesn’t hurt that there is at least a small benefit to spending a little more on the fancier, more dark bars.

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