January 10th is Bittersweet Chocolate day! Many of us know that dark chocolate is high in antioxidants. Here are four fun facts about this healthy treat:
Ancient Mesoamericans used roasted, crushed cacao beans to treat sicknesses and even kidney stones.
Due to dark chocolate’s health benefits, it was used to treat a wide variety of illnesses at the time. Even before scientists understood the specific health benefits, the wealthy in ancient times did. The few that could afford to have chocolate on a daily basis managed better than people who couldn’t afford to eat the delectable cacao.
In America, bittersweet chocolate starts around 70% or more of cacao in your bar.
Higher percentages of cacao lower the amount of sugar in your chocolate, but usually raises the amount of cocoa butter used. This ratio of cacao to sugar determines if it is bittersweet, semi-sweet, or sweetened. If you decide to add fine dark chocolate to your routine, make sure it’s true dark chocolate. Sometimes milk chocolate will have food coloring to make it look like dark chocolate. Checking the cacao percentage is probably best.
Too bitter? Add some almonds.
If you don’t care for the bitter taste try it with almonds; this offsets the bitterness and almonds are a good source of protein. Avoid eating chocolate with milk, however, as many scientists and doctors have argued that milk may hamper any potential health benefits from the antioxidants.
Other chocolates (white, for instance) don’t contain any health benefits.
Actually, white chocolate isn’t chocolate at all since it doesn’t contain any of the cocoa bean. It is composed of simply sugar, milk fat, and cocoa butter fat thus having no antioxidant value. Dark chocolate has been the only one found to have any potential health benefits.
So treat yourself with a moderate amount of dark chocolate to celebrate today’s holiday!