Can Chocolate Really Be Good For You?

can chocolate be good for you I expect by the time you’re reading this all chocolate will have been devoured – I haven’t yet started on my own egg, which is a smallish Cadbury’s Creme number. Once I get started, I find it best to eat the whole lot in one go – egg and ‘bonus’ confectionary. If you limit it to a small amount every day, the guilt just drags on forever. For me, anyhow!

Every year I mean to buy a great quality egg from some kind of artisan chocolatier or posh confectioners, but every year I end up in Sainsbury’s grabbing a couple of rubbish eggs at the very last minute! I was thinking about this yesterday and it reminded me to post about something I’ve been reading up on.

I had a very interesting little research session about chocolate the other day, after a top nutritionist told me that it can be exceptionally good for you. The trick is in the actual cocoa solid content – if you’re eating chocolate that’s 75%, 80% cocoa solid then you’re doing OK. You want the cocoa solids to be as high as possible. Because guess what most of the other percentage consists of? You’ve guessed it! Our old friend Mr Sugar.

Lindt, Divine and Green & Blacks all do amazing, high quality dark chocolate that’s readily available in supermarkets. Yes, it’s far more bitter than the Cadbury’s Dairy Milk that we all grew up on (didn’t we?), but it’s also a fair bit healthier. I see all these stupid headlines saying “chocolate IS good for you!” but then not explaining which type of chocolate! Dairy Milk is only about 20-25% cocoa solids, so all of these apparent ‘antioxidant’ effects and other health benefits are almost definitely going to be outweighed by the colossal amount of sugar that’s dumper-trucking its way into your body. If you go for the higher cocoa solids, the sugar content is less and the benefits higher. (Obviously this is all relative; you’d be better off eating a load of fresh fruit and veg, overall, but hey!)

Many of us eat so much sugar that we are properly, properly addicted to it, so it’s no surprise that milk is far more popular than dark – you’re really loving the sugar rush rather than the taste of actual, real chocolate. Of course there are good quality milk chocolates, but it still goes without saying that they are going to be sweeter, higher in sugar content.

Anyway, it wasn’t my intention to put a dampener on the egg-eating experience, I just wanted to make a point about chocolate and the very big difference between poor quality and good quality! (She says, eating a Cadbury’s Creme Egg.) I got an absolutely amazing recipe for chocolate mousse the other day, which I shall post about soon – it just uses chocolate and egg whites. (Maybe something else, must look…) Because the quality of the chocolate used is so good, hardly any sugar is needed and the intense flavour carries the entire dish. It’s definitely a better way to get a chocolate fix, if you’re on the hunt for one – lower sugar, lower fat…

As always, though, we can apply that age-old adage, “everything in moderation”. The odd bit of crappy choc isn’t going to kill you. But what if you have a bar a day? More? Then you might want to consider joining the ‘dark side’ (boom boom) and training your taste buds in the way of the bitter chocolate! I find that my chocolate cravings are satisfied after just a couple of squares – the rest of the craving is undoubtedly just for sugar.

Little Easter Sermon is over, choco-philes! Go in peace and eat plenty! We shall resume our chocolate discussions next week when I find that bloody mousse recipe..


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  1. April 8, 2012 / 8:19 am

    So true about the chocolate. I never even liked dark chocolate but started myself on increasing the cocoa content for the health benfits, about 18 years ago. As you say, it is amazing how quickly the chocolate craving then goes away, a square or two satisfying. NOW I understand the chocolate on the turned down bed in a hotel – it truly is a nice nightcap for special occasions! It also didn’t take long for me to reach the point where I don`t especially care for the low cocoa content choc anymore. How quickly “luxury” items we never knew even existed (for the most part) become something you just can’t survive without any longer. How DOES that happen? ;)

    On the other hand, put a bunch of Cadbury’s in front of me and it wouldn’t take much to gobble it all up. ;(

    • Ruth
      April 8, 2012 / 10:28 am

      @Upa I know…there’s just something about a Cadbury’s Creme egg…..

  2. April 8, 2012 / 8:37 am

    Great post Ruth, very imformative. I’m currently trying to wean myself off suger, I’m getting there…slowly. It’s clever how advertisers make use of generic terms to sell products but if you dig a little deeper you find it’s BS. Have to say I’m not a big chocolate fan, though I do like the occasional chocolate pudding. Happy Easter :) x x

    • Ruth
      April 8, 2012 / 10:28 am

      Happy Easter Parveen! x

  3. April 8, 2012 / 8:58 am

    I’m going to play the Belgian expert card here :-p and add that a good quality chocolate is important also because in bad quality ones, the cocoa butter is partly replaced with bad qualities fats like palm oil, which does disgusting things to your body.
    And of course, Belgian chocolate is the best, haha :)

    • Ruth
      April 8, 2012 / 10:28 am

      @Mariella haha – nicely patriotic! xx

  4. April 8, 2012 / 11:06 am

    The ‘chocolate is good for you!’ headline does seem to be doing its rounds at the moment, doesn’t it? I was thinking it’s just a testament to how stupid we’ve become about nutrition that we just think of things as simply ‘good for you’ or ‘bad for you’. I suppose in the world of quick fixes the idea of actually THINKING about a moderated, balanced diet just isn’t appealing. Or marketable. Good post, Ruth!

  5. April 8, 2012 / 11:16 am

    Oh how I tried last year, to convert to the dark healthy chocolate but just how bitter and deep it is, shocked me every time. Eurgh, really struggled. Love Easter but the egg thing can make me feel a bit guilty so think I’ll do your all in one go thing! Thanks, Ruth!

  6. April 8, 2012 / 1:19 pm

    My name’s Helen and I’m a chocoholic! lol
    But I keep my addiction under control with a small amount of good quality high cocoa % choccie each day…I’m a firm believer of ‘a little of what you fancy does you good’…although that’s not to say I’d refuse a creme egg if offered ;0)
    Helen x

    PS – Delia Smith has a fabulous recipe called ‘A very chocolately mousse’…which only has dark chocolate, eggs and a little sugar in…it’s in her ‘Chocolate’ cookbook…but I can’t find it on her website…but let me know if you’re interested and I’ll type it up here.

    • Ruth
      April 8, 2012 / 1:24 pm

      @Helen thanks! I think the one I’m thinking about is very similar! xx

  7. April 8, 2012 / 1:41 pm

    Here you go Ruth:

    A very chocolately mousse (serves 6) – Delia Smith

    200g dark chocolate (75% cocoa solids) broken into pieces
    120 ml warm water
    3 large eggs, separated
    40g golden caster sugar

    You will also need 6 small ramekins or serving glasses (I use small tumblers…or wine glasses if I’m trying to look posh! lol)

    1) Place the broken-up chocolate and warm water in a large heatproof bowl, which should be sitting over a saucepan of barely simmering water, making sure the bowl doesn’t touch the water. Then, keeping the heat at it’s lowest, allow the chocolate to melt slowly, then remove it from the heat and give it a good stir until it’s smooth and glossy. Then let the chocolate cool for 2-3 mins before adding the egg yolks, then give it another good mix.

    2) In a clean bowl, whisk the egg whites to the ‘soft peak’ stage, then whisk in the sugar, about a third at a time, then whisk again until the whites are glossy.

    3) Using a metal spoon, fold a tablespoon of the egg whites into the chocolate mixture to loosen it, then carefully fold in the rest.

    4) Divide the mousse between the ramekins/glasses and chill for at least 2 hours, covered with clingfilm.

    These really are ‘very chocolatey’ – enjoy!
    Helen x

    • Ruth
      April 8, 2012 / 3:29 pm

      @Helen OOOOOOOOOHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH! Thanks so much! xxx

      • April 8, 2012 / 4:31 pm

        @Helen…thanks so much for the recipe! Yes, I too am a chocoholic – though I think bookaholic is the addiction I need to address first! ;)

        Started back on “no sugar” March 22 and am still around! Since I’m Russian Orthodox, our Easter’s next week. Sure do hope I can come out of the whole thing with a minimum of sugar
        since it takes so much commitment to get started and so little to fall off the plan. ;)

        Will, at some point, give your delish recipe a whirl. It’ll come in very handy when I have that day when without chocolate I will simply wither up and die! (Ha!) Thanks so very much!!!!!

  8. Lisa
    April 8, 2012 / 7:30 pm

    I love chocolate and I also totally love your blog! :)

  9. flick
    April 9, 2012 / 12:52 am

    I’m a freak (I think we knew this) and eat chocolate with no sugar in it. I eat pure cacao (often the one from Willie’s cacao company – the round blocks of the pure cacao, available in Waitrose etc). When I give it to friends they usually love it if they just give themselves time to really taste it (but it takes a few seconds of shock before they really appreciate it ;-)

    • Ruth
      April 9, 2012 / 4:20 pm

      @Flick I have tried 100% once,but yes – it is a bit of a shock! Do you get a weird rush from it?

  10. Jools
    April 9, 2012 / 9:48 am

    I’ve been a bit of a dark chocolate addict for some years now and I tend to go for Green and Black’s 75% or 85%. We tucked into a glorious chocolate mousse yesterday, which we’ve been making for years – it’s from Raymond Blanc’s ‘Cooking for Friends’ – very similar to the Delia one and we add a little Grand Marnier or Amaretto – delicious and a little goes a long way! I can also highly recommend ‘Valrohna’ chocolate, which is popular in France – we used to buy it in industrial sized blocks that look like gold bullion bars, via mail order. A bit pricey but in my opinion, the best flavour there is when it comes to plain choccie. During a visit to Paris a few years ago, my hubbie and I visited a Valrohna chocolatier, where they make the most beautiful chocolate cake concoctions – well worth a visit if you’re ever there and can track it down – I can’t remember the location, it’s been so long since we visited! xx

    • Ruth
      April 9, 2012 / 4:19 pm

      @Jools it’s that very recipe that I’m looking for – I’m going to post it up on here. Amazing! I have it in my cupboard! x

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