We eat chocolate when we’re sad when we’re happy when we are bored when we celebrate. Chocolate is extremely important in people’s lives all over the world. Chocolate makes feel us better and good for our soul.
The first question comes in people’s mind when they find out that you are vegan: “oh you’re vegan! I don’t know how you can do it? I can’t be vegan I love chocolate so much! Well, so do I. I can reassure you, you can be vegan and eat delicious chocolate.
How Chocolate Is Made?
Chocolate is made from cacao beans which come from cacao pods grown on cacao trees. The cacao beans must go through the process of various stages such as harvesting, fermenting, drying, roasting, cracking & winnowing (removing shells from the roasted beans called nibs) and grinding & conching.
To get smooth paste consistency cocoa mass, the cocoa nibs must be grounded with the stone rollers. The consistency will contain cocoa solids and cocoa butter which is natural fat found in the bean. The cocoa butter gives smooth and glossier texture to the chocolate. Some chocolate makers add extra cocoa butter whereas others replace the extra cocoa butter with cheaper vegetable fats. Heads up! Read the ingredients of the chocolate you intend to buy.
Then the mixture, cocoa mass gets transferred to a conch for the further refined into cocoa solids. At this stage, the chocolate makers add sugar, flavourings and milk powder if necessarily. The ingredients used are dependent on the type of chocolate being made.
Three Major Categories of Chocolate
Milk Chocolate – As the name suggests it will contain milk. Sugar and dairy, milk and milk powder added to the cocoa mass to give it a creamier, softer and mellow flavour. Dairy milk isn’t necessary for milk chocolate.
The creamy and soft texture can be achieved by using dairy-free options such as almond milk, cashew milk, coconut milk and oat milk making it a vegan-friendly option.
White Chocolate – is made with cocoa butter, sugar and milk powder. However, it doesn’t contain cocoa mass, therefore, it is not considered as true chocolate.
White chocolate is usually non-vegan-friendly chocolate unless it specifies that dairy has been replaced with plant-based milk.
Dark Chocolate – Rich and sophisticated and requires only 3 ingredients: cocoa mass (usually with high percentage), cocoa butter, and sugar. This chocolate is usually the most suitable option for vegans.
Which Chocolate is healthier Milk chocolate, White Chocolate or Dark Chocolate?
According to the Department of Agriculture’s nutrient database, a 100g standard bar of dark chocolate 70-85% cacao solids contains 600 calories and 24 grammes of sugar. On the other hand, milk chocolate contains roughly the same calories as the dark chocolate but twice the amount of sugar.
Technically, milk chocolate may have a smoother and creamier texture, it usually has more sugar and less cocoa powder than dark chocolate. It’s lower in antioxidants (flavanols) than dark chocolate because of the low content of the cocoa powder.
We know that white chocolate is not considered to be real chocolate as it doesn’t contain cocoa solids and only cocoa butter with other ingredients. The sugar content in white chocolate even higher than in milk chocolate, 59 grammes in 100g of a bar and it has no flavanols at all.
Dark chocolate looks like the healthiest of them all as it contains less fat and sugar, but it is important to check the label.
The Health Benefits Of Chocolate
Chocolate is good for the heart
The scientists discovered in 2014 that dark chocolate is good for the heart. Dark chocolate helps restore flexibility in arteries while also preventing white blood cells from sticking to the walls of blood vessels. Ultimately, protecting from atherosclerosis.
Chocolate reduces stroke risk in men
Studies back in 2012 confirmed that men who consume the most chocolate tend to lower the risk of stroke of 17% compared to those who consume the least.
Chocolate reduces LDL cholesterol in overweight people
According to the Journal of the American Heart Association, in 2017, the study was conducted in overweight and obese individuals. Findings show that eating combinations of raw almonds, dark chocolate and cocoa helped lower the cholesterol in people who are overweight thus lowering the risk of cardiovascular disease.
Chocolate is good for brain function
The darker the chocolate, the higher the concentration of cocoa, the higher the level of antioxidants there will be in the bar. Flavonoids are antioxidants found in cocoa beans, fruits and vegetables. A compound of flavonols, a form of flavonoids have an anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effect.
The study has found that adults between age 50 – 69 who have been taking cocoa supplements with high flavanol for three months, had better performance on tests of memory than those who took cocoa supplements with low content of flavanol.
How to spot vegan chocolate
The best way is to check for the ingredients. Be careful of the hidden ingredients such as whey and casein. Both are derived from milk. High-quality chocolates usually will contain the least amount of ingredients sugar, cocoa butter which is vegan, a small percentage of oil, and a few fruits & nuts.
Some chocolates will contain emulsifier which is normally derived from soy and will mention on the label as soy lecithin which is vegan-friendly. The other trick is to skip all the ingredients and check the bit where it says Allergen Information. If the chocolate contains milk or eggs it will be mentioned on the label because both milk and eggs are classified as a common allergen.
There are so many delicious vegan chocolates available in the market that we can all indulge in and it really tastes like regular chocolate. If you want to find out which chocolate is vegan click here.
Why dark chocolate is good for your heart https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/02/140227092149.htm
Chocolate is good for brain function https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/your-brain-on-chocolate-2017081612179
Chocolate Reduces Stroke Risk in Men https://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/770037#vp_1
Chocolate reduces LDL cholesterol in overweight people https://www.ahajournals.org/doi/full/10.1161/JAHA.116.005162