It’s not what most of us grew up with. As a kid, it was pretty much a given that chocolate is candy, we shouldn’t eat too much or we’d get sick.
That still holds true for white or milk chocolate, which can be chock-full of sugar. But research over recent years has shown that eating a carefully selected small square of dark chocolate, every day, is not only a delicious treat, it is actually good for you.
According to the Cleveland Clinic, cocoa beans are rich in a type of flavonoids called flavonols, which are antioxidant-rich nutrients that help protect plants from cellular damage. Apparently, they can help us, too. Research has shown that flavonols are good for cardiovascular health, can lower blood pressure and improve circulation to the heart and brain. (Flavonols are also found in cranberries, red wine and tea.)
But not all chocolate is rich in flavanols. Choose dark chocolate over milk--which tends to be packed with fats and sugars--and look for cocoa powder that has not been “Dutch processed,” which means it’s been treated to neutralize its natural acidity.
Here are some of our favorite USDA-certified organic, Fair Trade and non-GMO Project verified dark chocolates.
Wei of Chocolate
Founder Lisa Reinhardt lived in monasteries and retreats in the Himalayas for 11 years. When she returned, she knew that she wanted to share her knowledge about meditation. Little did she know, the meditation would involve chocolate. But one day, Reinhardt had an enlightened idea: let a piece of chocolate melt in your mouth without chewing it. Let that time be a time-out, a ritual, a… meditation, with chocolate.
And not just any chocolate. Wei of Chocolate pieces are organic, dairy free, soy free, gluten free, GMO free, vegan, Fair Trade, and you can get a subscription, so that you’ll never run out! They’re infused with flower essences and come in cool flavors like chai, rose chili and many more. Weiofchocolate.com
The chocolate from this Indianapolis-based company is not only certified fair-trade, non-GMO, gluten free, vegan, but with each bar, Endangered Species donates 10 percent of net profits to fund habitat and species conservation, and help protect at-risk species by partnering with conservation organizations like Rainforest Trust and Wildlife Conservation Network. The delicious Dark Chocolate with Caramel and Sea Salt--dark chocolate with organic caramel and Pink Himalayan Sea Salt-- features the American Bald Eagle on the wrapper, and Endangered Species features over 30 products, each one doing good with each delicious bite. chocolatebar.com
Alter Eco chocolate sources all of its ingredients from small, farmer-owned cooperatives. The chocolate is organic, Fair Trade certified, non-GMO Project Verified. Everything--from sea salt truffles to dark burnt caramel--is delicious, and reflects a deep-seated commitment to eco values, every step of the way. And they don’t stop with chocolate: products like Thai Heirloom rice and Royal Heirloom Quinoa couldn’t be more sustainably produced. Alter Eco belongs to B Corp and much of their packaging is made from plant-based compostable materials. Alterecofoods.com
Nothing short of addictive, these slim nut-, seed or peppermint-studded slivers of dark chocolate are Fair Trade-certified, non-GMO, organic and simply too easy to eat right out of the bag! Try the Dark Chocolate with Almonds, Dark Chocolate with Pumpkin Seeds or many other varieties. barkthins.com
Nut-free, gluten-free, dairy-free, soy-free, organic, Fair Trade and non-GMO certified, allergy-free--and founded by a parent whose two girls have food allergies. Many traditional bars contain some if not all of the top eight allergens--peanuts, milk, tree nuts, soy, wheat, gluten and egg--but Pascha is free of even a trace. Pascha chocolate chips are my new go-to for baking, and the chocolate bars and mini bars are great for snacking. paschachocolate.com