The best chocolate for heart health is really plain cocoa as cocoa is where the good flavanols come from. Flavanols are like antioxidants in the body and help it ward off free radicals, which makes the body more efficient and improves blood flow. The effects on flavanols and the blood are what make chocolate good for your heart.
And of course, chocolate is one of the best sources of resveratrol.
But there’s a good chance you’re looking for chocolate that actually tastes good, so straight cocoa is probably not what you want.
Now, chocolate is different than cocoa. People who create chocolate products start off with cocoa and then do lots of different things to make their chocolate taste good. From a flavor standpoint, cocoa is like cinnamon. It has a unique flavor but by itself isn’t the most exciting thing to our taste buds.
That’s why chocolate makers add sweeteners like sugar. The combination of cocoa and sugar or cinnamon and sugar is definitely pleasant to our taste buds. Therefore to find the best chocolate for heart health we have to find the one that has the highest concentration of cocoa and the least amount of ingredients that would be harmful to your health.
Is Dark Chocolate Really Healthier?
Most people know dark chocolate is healthier, right? That doesn’t mean cocoa krispies are healthier than rice krispies though. Since milk chocolate is processed by adding milk solids to the recipe, it automatically has a lower concentration of cocoa than dark chocolate. So we can eliminate milk chocolate from the list immediately.
When looking at dark chocolate we want to compare the following things:
- High cacao or cocoa content
- Low sugar content
- Few additives and preservatives
- Shorter processing
Is Organic Healthier for your Heart?
Food labels are tough to accept. You just have to know that in order for a farmer to say he’s got free range chicken, all he has to do is open the giant warehouse chicken coop and fence in a 10′ x 10′ area at the door. The chicken don’t ever have to go out there, but they have to have the ability for 2 hours / day.
And organic is not that much different. The U.S. imports organic products from 87 different countries, none of which have the same standards we do (that is not a negative or positive statement, they may be stricter). And foods imported as organic don’t get scrutinized like our own organic products do but they do get mixed into the whole.
However, the theory of organic is when we’re trying to figure out the best chocolate for heart health. A cacao tree that is grown in organic conditions must fight off disease, blight, mold and pests on its own. Therefore it increases the flavanols and antioxidants to maintain the fight. That higher level of nutrient production is what makes one cacao bean healthier than another.
So our next filter is organic (hoping it truly is), which leaves us with these guys:
The Pascha 100% Dark Chocolate Bar is organic, dark and has two ingredients: Cacao Beans and Cocoa liquor (which comes from the cocoa bean)
The Hu Simple Dark Chocolate bar is 70% dark chocolate, organic and has three ingredients: Cacao Beans, Unrefined Coconut Sugar and Cocoa Butter
The Alter Eco Super Blackout bar is 90% cacao, organic and has four ingredients: Cocoa Beans, Cocoa Butter, Sugar Cane and Vanilla Beans