The health benefits of dark chocolate include having more chocolate antioxidants than the lighter in color chocolates.
Dark chocolates are pretty much considered vegan and paleo friendly because you generally won't find any milk products in this type of chocolate. Milk is usually only found in chocolates labeled milk chocolates or white chocolates.
Other health benefits of dark chocolate also include having a high amount of minerals and its also considered a low glycemic food.
Health Benefits of Dark Chocolate
Dark chocolate comes in different strengths or percentages that show
how much chocolate is in each bar. The benefits of dark
chocolate include having a high amount of antioxidants and this amount
increases with every percentage point.
Another one of the benefits of dark chocolate is that it
generally contains less sugar. Generally, the sugar content of chocolate will get
lower and lower as the percentage of chocolate gets higher and higher.
personally cannot handle anything above 70% and prefer a 55 to 65% range. I
love chocolate, but when it's too dark it's just too bitter for me.
Different Types of Dark Chocolate
Sweet Dark Chocolate - usually contains 35 to 45% chocolate liquor.
Semi-Sweet Dark Chocolate - usually contains 40 to 62% chocolate liquor.
Bittersweet Chocolate - usually contains 60 to 85% chocolate liquor.
As you can see by the labeling, when the chocolate liquor content goes up - the sugar content goes down.
What is Unsweetened Chocolate?
Basically, unsweetened chocolate is 100% chocolate liquor which is just the chocolate nibs ground into a liquid.
It is usually called baking chocolate or bitter chocolate. This type of chocolate is mainly used for baking as it is too bitter to eat like a chocolate bar.
More Chocolate Antioxidants!
"Raw" chocolates dried and roasted at lower temperatures contain a very high amount of antioxidants.
To get the most chocolate antioxidants, purchase "raw" cacao powder, cacao nibs, or cacao beans.
"Studies" indicate that dairy can block the absorption of all the great antioxidants in chocolate. Other "studies" have shown that only 30% of chocolate's antioxidants get blocked by dairy.
Is Chocolate Allowed On a Vegan Diet?
Yes, this is a vegan food because it comes from the fruit of the cacao tree.
The fruit of the cacao plant is actually a pod that contains cacao beans that are full of chocolate.
It's milk chocolate and white chocolate that contains milk or milk derivatives that are not allowed on a vegan diet.
How to Get Rid of Anti-Nutrients that Block Health Benefits of Dark Chocolate
Even though there are many health benefits of dark chocolate, chocolate is known for having a high amount oxalic acid and this
acid is known for the ability to create kidney stones. Chocolate is also known to contain high amounts of phytic acid as well. Both of these anti-nutrients can block important minerals such as calcium and iron.
However, properly fermenting "organic" cacao beans for a week or two should help to lower these anti-nutrients, so that you can enjoy the many health benefits of chocolate.
The Art of Chocolate
The flavor of chocolate can develop and change radically over time like wine. And sometimes, chocolate makers will age their chocolate when it comes out of the conching process which can be a lengthy process that usually requires an electric stone grinder.
They'll simply pour the "conched" chocolate and make large blocks. They leave these blocks of chocolate to age, sometimes for months before they temper the chocolate and pour it into molds to make their chocolate candies.
Aging chocolate helps to develop the flavor profile of chocolate. This should be done if your cacao beans or chocolate nibs contain a lot of "off flavors". "Off flavors" can literally float away into the air when chocolate is properly aged.
Aging is also thought to develop more stable beta crystal formation which can be used to "seed" chocolate during the tempering process to create more stable chocolates with a better "shelf life".