The Mayans hailed it as the “Victuals of the Deities” which should be ample grounds to incorporate chocolate treats into your daily regimen. Especially during this time of year when love once again makes an appearance, the craving for chocolate is understandably heightened even if it is a conventional present.
Encouraging news for chocolate enthusiasts comes from a plethora of studies that make it even more enticing to introduce a bit more chocolate into your life. Chocolate as a heart-healthy sustenance? That’s truly divine. A wide-ranging study, published recently in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, scrutinized data from over 188,000 veterans and concluded that regularly consuming about 1 ounce of chocolate was linked to a decreased risk of coronary artery disease.
Moreover, a meta-analysis published in the journal Nutrients affirmed that chocolate was probably advantageous in reducing the likelihood of heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes. An investigation in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics in 2023 revealed that consuming chocolate just 1 to 3 times a week could help lessen the risk of disease-related mortality.
There is also some initial data to propose that the fiber in cacao functions as a prebiotic (distinct from a probiotic), and as a result can promote the proliferation of beneficial bacteria in the gut microbiome. Okay, the substance isn’t kale, but it does seem there are less favorable edibles for long life than chocolate. Although much of the research has been funded by the industry, let’s assume the findings are solid regardless of who is financing it.
What accounts for the potential health boost? Scientists speculate it’s the profusion of valuable flavonols in cacao, which are plant compounds that work as antioxidants to diminish oxidative stress and consequent inflammation in the body, which are primarily responsible for cardiovascular health and other benefits. Particularly, these flavonols including epicatechin may assist in enhancing blood pressure readings and vascular blood flow, which is essential in sustaining improved heart performance.
Now, not every chocolate product is equally beneficial when it comes to our well-being. A packet of M&M’s isn’t a chocolate superfood, to put it mildly. As a rule, the darker the chocolate — signifying the higher cacao content — the greater the antioxidant and nutrient content and the lower the quantity of added sugar. So, in terms of chocolate bars, your prime choice is opting for those with 70 percent cacao or higher. (Unfortunately, even among darker chocolate, flavonol content can vary extensively based on harvesting and processing techniques.)
One small study ascertained that individuals who devoured dark chocolate instead of milk chocolate experienced more satiety, diminished hunger, and expressed less inclination to consume something sweet. As for cocoa powder, it’s preferable to select those labeled as natural or “raw” cacao powder, indicating it has not been Dutch-processed (treated with alkali) and then likely contains notably higher levels of heart-healthy flavonol antioxidants.
Insights into the Presence of Heavy Metals in Chocolate Delicacies
Despite all the commendable aspects of chocolate, there is one significant downside. The cacao beans used to fabricate chocolate products may be tainted with potentially hazardous heavy metals. Consumer Reports evaluated various dark chocolate products including bars and cocoa powder, and discovered that some had levels of cadmium and lead surpassing recommended thresholds, which could be particularly disconcerting for expectant women and young children.
Milk chocolate was found to have lower levels of heavy metals, which is logical since it contains fewer cocoa solids compared to dark chocolate. It’s uncertain how much chocolate one must consume from sources that are higher in heavy metals to pose a health hazard, but if you are generally healthy and refrain from excessive consumption, it should be safe to relish chocolate in moderation. You can peruse the report to identify the products that tested for lower levels and decide to opt for these more frequently. It would be advantageous to incorporate chocolate protein powders in future assessments, considering their widespread use nowadays.
Therefore, we grant you authorization to center V-day and beyond around relishing chocolate, particularly if you restrict the highly processed items typically found in those heart-shaped boxes. And if you’re keen on indulging in the dark delight, you can include these chocolate-infused treats in your list of favorite melodies.
Our Top 15 Preferred Chocolate Delicacies
Per serving: 220 calories, 4g fat, 33g carbs, 4g fiber, 14g protein
Occasionally, incorporating chocolate into your morning meal can make the universe seem like a more affectionate place. Formulated with oat flour, whey protein, and cocoa, this gluten-free, protein-enriched pancake and waffle mix merely necessitates stirring with water, so there’s no reason why a stack of flapjacks should be reserved solely for weekend mornings.
2. Nuttzo Chocolate Power Fuel
Per serving (2 tablespoons): 180 calories, 15 grams of fat, 9 grams of carbohydrates, 3 grams of fiber, 6 grams of protein
It’s not like Skippy. This rich-tasting spread is crafted with dark chocolate and seven diverse nuts and seeds, offering an abundance of nourishing fats. Spread it on apple slices, blend it into smoothies, or dilute it with some maple syrup and cream for an excellent pancake topping.
3. Seven Sundays Oat Protein Cereal Chocolate Sea Salt
Per serving: 150 calories, 5 grams of fat, 24 grams of carbohydrates, 4 grams of fiber, 5 grams of protein
An adult version of Cheerios. Produced using cocoa-immersed upcycled oat protein from oat milk manufacturing and sweetened perfectly with California Medjool dates. Each spoonful gives the feeling of having dessert in the morning or consider a bowl of crisp cereal with milk as an actual treat.
4. Naked Protein Brownie Mix
Per serving: 230 calories, 11 grams of fat, 22 grams of carbohydrates, 3 grams of fiber, 15 grams of protein
If you aspire to prepare a chocolatey delight for someone special, which can be yourself, but lack baking skills, this protein-enhanced brownie mix is your rescuer. Brownies that can aid in muscle building, who would have guessed?
5. Alter Eco Raspberry Blackout
Per serving: 190 calories, 16 grams of fat, 11 grams of carbohydrates, 4 grams of fiber, 2 grams of protein
Infused with real raspberries instead of enigmatic “natural flavors,” this Fair Trade certified chocolate bar contains 85% cacao and thus offers lower sugar and more health-enhancing antioxidants. Dip a piece into peanut butter because, after all, you only live once.
6. Seedwise Grain-Free Chocolate Clusters
Per serving: 150 calories, 11 grams of fat, 9 grams of carbohydrates, 6 grams of fiber, 6 grams of protein
Welcome your fresh preferred yogurt or ice-cream topping. A nutrient-packed seed blend is bound together by chocolate devoid of sugar. There’s a substantial amount of fiber here, making it a gratifying snack choice.
7. Evolved Cashew Butter
Per serving: 150 calories, 13 grams of fat, 12 grams of carbohydrates, 2 grams of fiber, 3 grams of protein
Velvety cashew butter coated with dark chocolate (72% cacao)—how magnificent. The bars are formulated with organic and Rainforest Alliance Certified components. Should we assert that this chocolate-filled nutty delight is too marvelous to give away?
8. Navitas Organics Cacao Nibs
Per serving: 20 calories, 1.5 grams of fat, 1 gram of carbohydrates, 1 gram of fiber, 0 grams of protein
Take cacao beans, crush them into bits, and you get delightfully bitter cacao nibs—chocolate that’s nearly in its natural state. Picture them as extra dark chocolate chips with extra crunch, more health-boosting antioxidants, and none of the sugar. The brand actively seeks third-party testing of its cacao goods to ensure they contain safe levels of heavy metals. Sprinkle them on oatmeal, yogurt, and even salads to add even more chocolate into your life.
9. Vega All-in-One Shake Chocolate
For each serving: 190 calories, 6g lipids, 15g carbohydrates, 7g roughage, 20g protein
This protein powder is like a powerhouse. A powerful amount of plant protein is combined with leafy greens, fruit dust, probiotics, and flax to create one of the most nutritionally balanced protein supplements available. Enjoy your chocolate treat and nourishment in one go.
Per serving: 140 calories, 9g lipids, 15g carbohydrates, 1g roughage, 3g protein
It tastes like a blend of coffee and hot cocoa. Perfect for a cozy morning sensation. An added benefit is the four functional mushrooms in the mixture. Besides, surf legend Laird Hamilton, almost 60 and still muscular, must be following an effective nutritional regimen.
Per serving: 230 calories, 10g lipids, 25g carbohydrates, 10g roughage, 14g protein
Not all protein bars are rich in protein. This organic one surely is and goes further by including a large amount of roughage – a bar that genuinely fulfills. Besides, it tastes like a chocolate fantasy.
Per serving: 370 calories, 10g lipids, 49g carbohydrates, 11g roughage, 20g protein
This is by no means an ordinary muesli. Sprouted brown rice protein, goji berries, chia seeds, cacao nibs, and probiotics make it an outstanding nutritional option. By soaking the mixture in your preferred milk overnight, it’s the ideal nourishment for busy mornings. The muesli also offers a good assortment of micronutrients including iron, thiamin, zinc, and magnesium.
Per serving: 100 calories, 1g lipids, 3g carbohydrates, 0g roughage, 20g protein
When you are truly dedicated to your protein powder, this should be a top-notch alternative. The criteria are high: whey sourced from grass-fed cattle, a unique filtration process preserving amino acid integrity, and third-party NSF and Informed Sport certification to ensure you receive what you are investing in. The chocolaty protein powder also incorporates a unique enzyme blend proven to improve the absorption rate of the muscle-building amino acids.
Per serving: 100 calories, 1.5g lipids, 24g carbohydrates, 2g roughage, 1g protein
Created solely from organic bananas and organic chocolate (64% cacao content), these are treats that you can truly take pleasure in guilt-free. I’d say that these fruity truffles are an excellent pre-workout nibble for a quick energy boost.
Per serving: 240 calories, 12g lipids, 26g carbohydrates, 11g roughage, 15g protein
If you’re yearning for a chocolate candy bar, may we recommend opting for this choice instead. A smooth almond butter base is combined with pea protein and a burst of rich chocolate flavor from chocolate chips and cocoa powder. It’s sweetened with dates and honey instead of the highly processed sugars commonly found in candy bars at the checkout.