When you hear the word chocolate the very first word that may pop into your mind might be ‘sweet’, ‘indulgent’, or ‘sugary’. Although a couple of those characteristics may apply to certain kinds of chocolate or pertain to the baked good in which the chocolate is used, I’m going to share with you some of the nutritious health benefits of eating REAL dark chocolate.

When comparing dark chocolate to milk or white chocolate, the ingredients differ slightly, positively affecting the overall nutritional composition of dark chocolate. What is most important to note however, is being able to recognize when you are eating REAL dark chocolate! REAL dark chocolate is made only from the cocoa bean, a nutrient-packed superfood. The cocoa bean contains cocoa butter (the fat portion of the cocoa bean) and the non-fat cocoa solids.

How to Choose REAL Dark Chocolate

You may be thinking: What is the BEST way for consumers to differentiate between REAL dark chocolate and dark chocolate that has been adulterated? Simply read the ingredient list! If the dark chocolate contains palm oil in the ingredient list, it is not real because palm oil is what is used to replace the healthy cocoa butter that is derived from the cocoa bean. This process negatively hinders the quality, taste, and nutritional value of the dark chocolate, however there is no federal standard of identity for labeling it as such. Another way to tell if your dark chocolate has been adulterated is to take note if it melts in your mouth or not. If it does not, and simply stays in a sweet, waxy texture, that is because palm oil raises the melting point of the chocolate above body temperature.

Dark Chocolate Benefits

One of the most highly researched potential health benefits of eating dark chocolate comes from its flavonoid properties. Flavonoids are phytochemicals that act as antioxidants in the body and are compounds found in many foods that are derived from plant sources. These compounds are linked to potential heart health benefits such as lowering blood pressure, decreasing “bad” cholesterol and increasing “good” cholesterol in our blood, improving flexibility of blood vessels, and decreasing risk for cardiovascular disease. What a great reason to be eating REAL dark chocolate to get these healthy benefits and the indulgent taste of rich dark chocolate melting in your mouth!

Aside from all the health benefits, it is important to note that moderation is key. Making sure we are not consuming dark chocolate in excess and that it is coming from a nutrient dense source is an excellent way to make it part of a healthy diet. When you choose a NuGo bar coated in real dark chocolate, you satisfy your chocolate craving without overindulging plus you get the added benefits of protein!

Some of my favorite sources of dark chocolate include traditional dark chocolate bars, dark chocolate drizzled rice cakes, and especially NuGo Nutrition Dark Chocolate Protein Bars. (My favorite flavor is Mint Chocolate Chip!) All of these dark chocolate snacks are not only REAL and nutrient dense but are not packed with unnecessary sugar and calories! So grab a NuGo Dark bar and snack on!