Valentine's Day is fast approaching. Whether you're celebrating with a sweetie or you're celebrating with friends, you're probably going to encounter sweets and treats, particularly chocolate.
In honor of the day, the dailySpark is giving you a chocolate lesson. You know dark chocolate is the "good stuff," but what should you look for before you take that sweet first bite?
The compounds that benefit your health (antioxidants and phenols) are in the cocoa solids. The more cocoa solids your chocolate has, the darker the chocolate will appear. But you can't rely on looks or marketing alone since any chocolate can be labeled "dark," even if it doesn't contain a high concentration of cocoa. The first ingredient on the label should be cocoa, chocolate, or cocoa liquor. Choose a product that contains at least 70 percent cocoa. This percentage should be listed on the label.
Be choosy about your chocolate. Bypass the colorful chocolate candies, skip the milk chocolate hearts, and turn away from the fancy bonbons.
This chart can help you know what to look for when choosing chocolate:
A few more chocolate tips:
Some dark chocolate to try*:
Chili and Cacao Nibs
2-ounce bars, from $3
Endangered Species Chocolate
Dark Chocolate with Espresso Beans
Dark Chocolate with Cranberries and Almonds
Dark Chocolate with Deep Forest Mint
3-ounce bars, from $3.79
Orange Dark Chocolate
Mint Chocolate with a Delicate Crunch
Very Dark Chocolate
3.5-ounce bars, from $4.25
Green and Black's
Hazelnut and Currant
3.5-ounce bars, from $3.75
*Though 70% cacao content and above is what you should aim for when choosing a chocolate bar, such chocolates can be a bit intense at first. We listed a few chocolates that contain slightly less than 70%. Some of these chocolates contain a bit of dairy, but they don't have fillers or excess sweeteners.
What is your favorite chocolate treat? Is there a brand we missed? Do you splurge on the good stuff?