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Sumptuously delicious dark chocolate
on August 15, 2011
Green & Black's is my new favorite dark chocolate--by a mile. I highly recommend it for anyone who wants to eat dark chocolate either for the health benefits it provides or for its delicately bittersweet flavor. This particular brand of dark chocolate tastes amazing.
The company G&B is from Canada and is famous for organic, fair-trade, 70% dark chocolate. This particular bar has had the same recipe since 1998. It was previously labeled "vegan," but per the G&B website, the label for this bar no longer says vegan and indicates that milk is an ingredient because both their "milk chocolate and dark chocolate bars are made using the same production line...and a recent audit revealed that traces of milk residues can still be found on manufacturing equipment despite intensive cleaning." The ingredients listed on the package are: organic bittersweet chocolate (organic chocolate), organic raw cane sugar; organic cocoa butter; soy lecithin (emulsifier), organic vanilla extract; organic whole milk powder. There is a warning that because this is manufactured in a facility that uses nuts and peanuts, those with allergies to them should not eat this product.
The question some may ask who love sweet, milk chocolate is, why pay more money (often quite a bit more) for dark chocolate such as this that doesn't taste sweet? The main reason for most people in the over-50 crowd is the health benefits to be gained from consuming dark chocolate. The more chocolate contained in a chocolate bar, the more of the good stuff--cacao--that you are getting. In short, the more "bang" for your "buck."
Over the last four years there have been dozens of scientific studies analyzing and confirming substantial health benefits from a small amount of dark chocolate consumed daily. The latest findings from a Harvard study released in early 2011 indicate that as little as 6 gm. of dark chocolate (about 30 calories) is a sufficient daily "dose." (That is equivalent to about 1.5 of the tiny squares of this chocolate.) The original German studies in 2007 used Ritter Sport chocolate, but I haven't so far been able to discover which kind of Ritter's dark chocolate was used by the researchers. However, since Ritter's only makes two types, 50% cacao and 71% cacao, this product, at 70% cocoa, fits well within the parameters of that study.
The health benefits of dark chocolate are due to the flavonoids contained in cocoa. Flavonoids act as antioxidants in the body, which both prevent and reduce inflammation. Over many years of medical research, inflammation has been found to contribute to or directly cause a host of diseases, including high blood pressure, heart disease, and cancer, as well as autoimmune diseases like arthritis.
Flavonoids are found in the pigments of fruits and vegetables which give them their color. The darker and deeper the color of a fruit or vegetable, the greater the amount of flavonoids it contains. Cocoa is derived from the dark-brown cacao bean, which is the fruit of the tropical tree, theobroma cacao. In any chocolate product, such as this one, the higher the percentage of cocoa/cacao, the more flavonoids the chocolate contains.
Dark chocolate such as this product is better for your health than milk chocolate because it contains more antioxidants, which are good for you, and less sugar, which is not good for you--especially if you have diabetes or are struggling with your weight.
The FDA defines categories of chocolate based on how much cocoa/cacao is in a given product:
1. Unsweetened chocolate with no additives is 100% cocoa. Most all brands of unsweetened baker's chocolate fall into this category. Their ingredient list will state simply, "chocolate."
2. Bittersweet chocolate contains 35-99% cocoa (35% is the minimum), and it must contain less than 12% milk solids. There is a large range of products in this category, and the product names reflect the amount of chocolate they contain. Unsweetened chocolate is very bitter, and the more cocoa in a product, the less room for sugar, and the more bitter it will be. In order to avoid frightening off customers who are used to sweet chocolate, marketers often substitute the words "dark," "extra dark" or "intense" for "bitter" if that word is not paired with "sweet," for example as "bittersweet" or "extra bittersweet." This product lies at the top of this range.
3. Sweet chocolate contains 15-34% cocoa (15% is the minimum), and it must contain less than 12% milk solids. It is sometimes also marketed as "dark chocolate," even though it has a much lower percentage of cocoa solids than bittersweet, which can cause consumers, in such cases, to purchase a product with less cocoa in it than they realized they were getting. Everything else besides the cocoa and milk solids is essentially sugar.
4. Milk chocolate is only required to have a minimum of 10% cocoa, a minimum of 12% milk solids and 3.39% milk fat. The rest is sugar and milk.