How to practice portion control with chocolate…And whether it really is healthier from the health food store
By Nutritionist Melissa Fine.
When it comes to chocolate, I find it hard to stop at one or two pieces. How do I practice portion control?
Go for a good quality dark chocolate: I find that the darker my chocolate, the less likely I am to overeat it. Look for a chocolate with a cacao content of 55-85% - The higher the percentage, the less sugar there’ll be. And the more sugar in your chocolate, the more likely you’ll go overboard, as a chocolate primarily based on sugar can encourage your blood sugar to quickly rise and then fall, so you’ll want to go back for another hit.
Avoid buying a family-sized block or bag of fun size chocolates: If it’s just for you, why not buy a single-serve chocolate instead? Yes, it’s not as good value for money, but you’ll appreciate it more this way, as you’ll see it as a one-off treat…Eat it slowly and mindfully, because there’s no second (or third) helping to go back for!
Have it with nuts and fruit: I’m a fan of Loving Earth’s new Choc Chip Turkish Delight luvju; Packed with sour cherries, creamy cashews, pure organic rose essential oil and Coconut Mylk chocolate chunks, it contains just enough chocolate to satisfy a craving, while also tiding me over thanks to the fibre, protein and healthy fats from the ingredients combined.
Cacao vs Cocoa – Is there really a difference? Yes! This is because cacao is raw and cocoa is heat-treated, a process whereby it loses some of its nutritional potency. Take the cacao used by brands like Loving Earth, which has a much higher antioxidant content (measured by the ORAC score – Oxygen Radical Absorbence Capacity) than cocoa. So, cacao can be more effective than cocoa at fighting free radicals, environmental toxins that can cause cell and tissue damage.
Why is chocolate at health food stores so much more expensive than chocolates from the supermarket?
Because it’s often produced ethically and with premium ingredients: It’s nice to know that when you buy fair-trade Loving Earth chocolate, you’re supporting the164 families involved in the production of heirloom cacao all the way in Satipo, at the edge of the Amazon basin.
Because it doesn’t contain cheap, mass-produced ingredients like vegetable oil: What’s wrong with vegetable oil? Plenty, including that it easily goes rancid, producing free radicals when exposed to heat. Plus, during processing, vegetable oils may undergo hydrogenation, where they harden into undesirable trans-fats. Creamy, magnesium-rich cacao butter is a much healthier alternative - Made purely from pressed cacao nibs, it melts at a nice low temperature (about 35 degrees C), so retains its nutritional properties while creating a chocolate that’s perfectly smooth; Loving Earth says it’s their magic ingredient.
Choc Chip Turkish Delight Luvju: This raw, organic Luvju blends together the sweet tang of sour cherries with generous chunks of our Coconut Mylk Chocolate (20%). Our chocolate uses premium Amazonico Criollo Cacao sourced from Peru. There is also the delicate hint of organic rose essential oil, which results in a deliciously unique but healthy snack, reminiscent of the Turkish delight.
Organic Raw Cashews, organic dates, organic sour cherries, Organic Raw Cacao Nibs, Organic Evaporated Coconut Nectar (5%), Organic Coconut, Organic Raw Cacao Butter, Organic Cold Pressed Coconut Oil, organic rose essential oil, Organic Raw Cacao (11% min).