Chocolate is the most consumed food in the world. The results of more than 2500 scientific studies also demonstrate that chocolate can support your health and even improve it. We eat chocolate. We hear it is good for us. Yet, most of us continue to believe chocolate is junk food. Is chocolate a junk food to be avoided even though we love it or a superfood we should eat small amounts of daily? It depends upon how it is made. Superfood or junk both taste delicious.

Chocolate comes from the cacao plant whose beans provide the basic taste, texture and flavor of chocolate. Cacao can promote good health. It contains more antioxidants than any other fruit or vegetable on the planet. Antioxidants help us stay healthy and energetic. Our bodies produce billions of free radicals daily. Free radicals damage cells and are associated with more than 200 diseases. Antioxidants neutralize free radicals.

Manufacturers, aware of the benefits of dark chocolate, want consumers to believe they are buying a healthy product, not a nutritionally deficient junk food. Most now show the percentage of cacao on the product wrapper. 70% or 85% cacao is a meaningless number, unrelated to the antioxidant content. Typically, most commercial chocolates are made using cheap and easy processing methods that destroy the antioxidants and other beneficial nutrients in cacao. The bean is heated and fermented after which alkali is added. Alkalization alone destroys 60 to 90% of the antioxidants.

Antioxidant content, not percentage of cacao, is what to look for when buying chocolate. Xoçai Healthy Chocolate is the only chocolate whose wrapper shows the antioxidant content. Xoçai’s antioxidant content is validated quarterly by Brunswick Laboratories, an independent laboratory specializing in the science of antioxidants.

Dark chocolate is always healthier than milk. Read the ingredients listed on the label. Cocoa butter and cocoa solids, not cocoa liquor or flavoring, should be the primary ingredients (listed first in the ingredients). Avoid chocolates that contain milk fats and hydrogenated oils or are high in refined sugar, corn syrup and/or preservatives.

Manufacturers of high-antioxidant chocolate products adhere to the following guidelines, which are not listed wrappers. Unless a manufacturer tells you they follow these guidelines, assume they don’t and that most of the antioxidants have been destroyed.

The cacao beans should be dried, not heated and roasted, and washed and thoroughly cleaned. The chocolate should not be alkalized.      It should be tested for bacteria, other infectious agents, and lead. The processing temperature should not exceed 110°F. Low glycemic sugars, good sweetening agents, such as unprocessed crystallized cane juice, fructose and agave should be used. The USDA now requires all sweeteners to be listed as “sugar” so you can’t identify the sweetening agent unless the manufacturer tells you elsewhere.

Xoçai Healthy Chocolate, the healthy chocolate category innovator and leader, is the only company that follows all of the above guidelines. For more information about Xoçai Healthy Chocolate contact the author of this article, Diana Deene at info@coco-deene.com or 310.210.1646.

Diana Deene is a networking partner of mine in the Worthwhile Referral Services group.  I have met with her and highly recommend trying Xoçai.  -Eva

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