Pure 100% chocolate is my favorite food in the world. And for good reason. Pure unsweetened cacao gives me a lift! It is higher in antioxidants than grapes, blueberries, or green tea. Maybe that’s why ancient cultures called it “Food of the Gods.” Who needs meds when we have the REAL STUFF?
But there’s a catch! If it has sugar added, it’s partly toxic. Why ruin the healthiest food by mixing it with the most unhealthy toxin? Sugar acidifies the body and causes inflammation. Cacao, when it is raw and unsweetened is the #1 highest antioxidant food on Earth. Yes! It is the TOP NUMBER ONE ANTI-OXIDANT, when measured by ORAC (oxygen radical absorbance capacity) according to the USDA. Follow my links below to the BEST unsweetened chocolate bars!
Chocolate Uplifts Body Chemistry
Chocolate contains key substances that benefit body chemistry and lift the spirits. Theobromine is a natural mood elevator. Tryptophan is an amino acid and precursor to serotonin, involved in the transmission of pleasure. Phenethylamine, often called the “Love Chemical,” is a neurotransmitter that evokes feelings of passion. Caffeine, a stimulant, is also present in chocolate, in small amounts. All in all, chocolate is quite a sweet cocktail, and gift from Nature.
But there’s a catch!
If it’s not 100% chocolate, you’re shooting yourself in the foot! Why would we want to mix the HEALTHIEST food on the planet with the UNHEALTHIEST food? You’ll get a true lift from 100% chocolate. So-called “Dark chocolate” is required by law to be a minimum of 35% cacao. Yep! So, dark chocolate is not so healthy. If you’re sort of a purist like me, look for 100% real food.
Rule of Thumb: If it’s not 100% cacao, the rest is sugar!
Yikes! So, your dark chocolate might be only 35% cacao and 65% sugar, and be totally legal? Yep, that’s right!
There are three levels of cacao trees.
The quality determines the flavor. Different qualities of cacao beans from different areas are blended to give characteristic flavors we know. Let your taste buds guide you to the best quality chocolate!
- Criollo – is the highest quality. It’s the mildest, almost sweet bean used in truly divine chocolates, but represents only about 1% of cacao trees. Criollo trees are delicate, subject to disease, and difficult to cultivate,
- Trinitario – is the medium quality bean, easier and hardier to grow, has the a wide range of tastes and profiles representing about 8% of the market.
- Forestero – is the lowest quality. It is extremely bitter, acidic, and easy to grow. This represents over 90% of cacao in the world, mostly from Africa. It has to be mixed with lots of sugar, otherwise the bitterness and acidity is overwhelming. No one wants to eat a pure, 100% Forastero chocolate bar!
1. Serotonin: A neurotransmitter commonly known as the “feel-good chemical.” Cacao aids the body in producing its own serotonin, naturally. Serotonin is well known for its ability to combat stress and improve our mood by promoting the feelings of comfort, contentment, happiness, relaxation, and well-being.
2. Phenylethylamine (PEA): better known as “the love chemical,” for its association with the giddy excitement one feels when falling in love. When ingested, PEA stimulates the central nervous system to release the body’s natural opium-like compounds called endorphins. PEA signals the body to promote the sensation of alertness, focus, and mental acuity, all while elevating one’s mood, speeding up metabolism, and boosting memory.
3. Anandamide: in Sanskrit, ananda literally means “bliss,” making anandamide the “bliss chemical” in chocolate. Anandamide is a neurotransmitter found naturally in cacao and also in the human brain (the only two places it is has currently been discovered). Anandamide doesn’t leave you in a mind-altered state, but, does produce a feeling of euphoria.
4. Theobromine: this chemical acts as a vasodilator, meaning it relaxes smooth muscle. Benefits of this chemical include enhanced blood flow and oxygenation to the brain in addition to long-term antioxidant properties.
5. Magnesium: every cell in the body contains this mineral and requires it to function. Magnesium helps increase energy, calms nerves, aids in digestion, and relieves muscle aches and pains (among a whole host of other benefits).
These are my favorite 100% chocolate sources, with links. Enjoy!
Pascha Organic Dark Chocolate Baking Chips 100% Cacao Unsweetened — 8.8 oz
Ghirardelli 100% Unsweetened Chocolate Baking Bar,
Navitas Organics– Organic Cacao Powder
Rawmio ESSENTIAL DARK CHOCOLATE BAR – 100% CACAO
Essential Dark Chocolate Bar – 100% Cacao
Oh boy! Do I love chocolate! For the best chocolate experience, look for single origin, fair trade cacao sourced directly from South America plus luscious raw cacao butter. Look for low-temperature stone grinding for a silky-smooth texture, to preserve vital nutrition, and allow the subtle flavor notes of cacao to shine. Look for rich, dark, complex, and deeply satisfying cacao with zero sugar added. May you enjoy pure bliss with every bite!
A Few Resources: