Dark chocolate contains healthy benefits in the form of antioxidants, but if you’re snacking on large potions of chocolate every day, you might be crowding out other foods your body needs more and consuming a lot of excess calories in the process.
Enjoying a small piece of chocolate, about the size of a silver dollar, is OK if it’s not a trigger food for you -- meaning you can enjoy it one day and skip it the next. Shop for bars that contain 70 percent real cocoa or more. Some dark chocolate brands can have quite a bit of added sugar (3 teaspoons per serving, which is about 3-4 squares), so check the label and compare brands to see how much they differ.
If chocolate is a trigger food for you, use unsweetened cocoa powder in savory applications to break that association while still getting 100 percent of the benefits. Unsweetened cocoa is the best source of antioxidant power, outranking all the bar chocolates, and also happens to be higher in fiber and iron. Even when I make the occasional dessert, I love to start with unsweetened powdered cocoa, since it’s just pure, unadulterated cocoa with minimal processing, and I can season it with other spices for savory dishes or gently sweeten it for desserts.
Jennifer Iserloh, aka the “Skinny Chef”, is a leader in promoting healthy, vibrant lifestyles though a diet of delicious and nutritious easy-to-prepare meals. A classically trained chef, certified yoga teacher and a graduate of the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, Iserloh is the best-selling author of 50 Shades of Kale and Healthy Cheats, among other books.