When you think of "chocolate," what comes to mind? Its taste? The rich aroma? Its creamy mouth feel? In his book, In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto, Michael Pollan shares that people's responses to "chocolate cake" were "guilt." Michael writes,
“He showed the words “chocolate cake” to a group of Americans and recorded their word associations. “Guilt” was the top response. If that strikes you as unexceptional, consider the response of French eaters to the same prompt: “celebration.”
Research suggests that those who associate chocolate cake with guilt report less perceived control over eating -- and they are also often less success at maintaining and/or losing weight! (1) Associating foods with guilty feelings isn't helpful nor healthful in the quest for optimal health for the mind, body and soul!
My hope is that you feel good - not guilty - about the foods you choose...and that includes foods like chocolate! You see, beyond its delicious taste, chocolate can actually be good for us -- and something that we can say YES! to frequently! Chocolate can indeed fit into a healthy diet.
Chocolate is made from cacao and cacao brings a variety of nutrition benefits - including antioxidants (like flavonoids and theobromine) and nutrients that help support the health of your heart and brain.
Here's how you can say YES! to chocolate:
Healthy Tips for Enjoying Chocolate
- The darker the chocolate, the more cacao and less added sugar compared to other chocolates. I recommend looking for chocolate that's at least 65% cacao!
- Dark chocolate features a nutrient profile that's mostly carbohydrate and fat. I recommend adding a little bit of protein to a dark chocolate snack, so combine your favorite dark chocolate with handful of nuts or seeds or add a layer of nut butter overtop your square.
- Choose a respectful, delicious portion. One ounce (about the size of a small matchbox) is a good measure!
Delicious Chocolate Foods - YES! Nutrition Favorites
Dark Chocolate Almond Perfect Bar:
What happens when you mix dark chocolate, almond butter and 20+ organic superfoods? This Dark Chocolate Almond Bar...which tastes unbelievable (who knew healthy could taste this good!) I find these bars in the refrigerated section at the grocery store and keep them in my refrigerator at home. They're great to grab on-the-go or to enjoy after a good workout!
Hail Merry Dark Chocolate Espresso Cups:
Sink your teeth into the creamy ganache and the crispy cookie crust of these dark chocolate espresso cups. They are made with simple ingredients and of course they're delicious. Treat yourself!
Navitas Organics Cacao Nibs
Cacao is what chocolate is made from, so cacao nibs (like these cacao nibs from Navitas) deliver the most nutrition (flavonoids, magnesium, theobromine, etc.) compared to equal portions of dark chocolate or milk chocolate! I like adding a tablespoon of cacao nibs to my morning oatmeal, as part of trail mix, or overtop a smoothie made with protein powders and cauliflower (like my Strawberry Cauliflower Smoothie!).
Square Organics Bars:
With 13 grams of plant-based protein, these bars make for a delicious mid-day fuel up. I like that this Dark Chocolate Coated Peanut Butter Bar delivers a fair amount of iron and magnesium, too (thanks to dark chocolate!). The Square Organics brand delivers other yummy bars, too, like Cherry Coconut, Almond Spice, and Mint. Mmmm!
Eating Evolved Dark Chocolate Coconut Butter Cups
I can't wait to try these dark chocolate coconut butter cups from Eating Evolved, which come as a "you've got to try this!" recommendation to me from Registered Dietitian Ashley Koff. For those with special diets, they're paleo and vegan-friendly (gluten-free, soy-free, and dairy-free too).
Do you love dark chocolate? What is your favorite chocolate food? Share it with me in the comments below or over on Facebook @YESNutritionLLC!
Disclosure: This blog post includes some affiliate links, which means I may earn a small commission if you follow the links and choose to purchase the items.