In search of the healthiest and best-tasting dark chocolate — because we still want to indulge in a bite or two on occasion — we culled these buying tips from our expert sources.
- Aim for a high cocoa percentage — ideally, more than 85 percent. The higher the cocoa, the more likely the chocolate will contain healthy flavanols. The rest of any chocolate is filler, primarily sugar, dairy, and fat.
- Seek out chocolate made from the best cacao beans, which come from countries closest to the equator, including the Ivory Coast and Ghana in Africa, and Ecuador and Peru in South America.
- Look for chocolate listing cocoa, cocoa mass, or chocolate liquor first. The fewer the overall ingredients, the less processed the chocolate is likely to be, and the healthier it is for you.
- Support fair-trade chocolate, which certifies that fair prices were paid to the cacao producers in developing countries.
- Opt for organic and non-GMO chocolate produced without chemical fertilizers, pesticides, and herbicides.
- Skip Dutch-processed cocoa, which uses alkalization to remove bitter flavors; it also damages antioxidants.
- Steer clear of any chocolate with sugar as the first ingredient.
- Watch out for chocolate containing cheap vegetable oils instead of cocoa butter.
- Choose chocolate that promises it’s made from humanely harvested cacao. Chocolate has a long, sad history of slave and child labor.
This originally appeared as “Dark-Chocolate Cheat Sheet” in “Unwrapping Dark Chocolate: The Marketing Behind a Superfood” in the July/August 2018 print issue of Experience Life.