Well, yes. But it depends on a few key factors. Eating chocolate when you quit sugar means knowing these things:
- Cacao contains less than 1 per cent sugar, and is a richly nutritious food. See below for the details.
- Store-bought chocolate is problematic. It’s made with cocoa, which is the refined version of cacao. Cocoa retains less of the nutritional benefits of the raw cacao.
- Many so-called “sugar-free” chocolates, in fact, contain agave which is up to 90 per cent fructose.
- Most store-bought chocolates also contain bad oils and additives, and retains less nutritional value than hand-crafted or homemade chocolate as the cacao has been heated and refined.
The upshot: it’s best to make your own chocolate.
Which is easy. The I Quit Sugar Chocolate Cookbook has 74 chocolate recipes for you to try and we share a bunch of the most popular ones throughout the Program, like these Fudgy Protein Bites which are healthy enough to eat for breakfast.
If you do buy in store, look for:
The darkest (highest cocoa/cacao content) available. For plain chocolate, whatever isn’t cocoa/cacao is generally sugar. So, a small bar (35g/1.3oz) of 70% cacao chocolate is 30% sugar. Which equates to about 2.5 teaspoons. Thus, try to go for 85% varieties.
Varieties that use cocoa butter instead of vegetable oils (a few do exist, but mostly only to be found in health food or specialty stores).
Varieties that don’t contain emulsifiers, PGPR, vegetable oil, sugar alcohols – such as maltitol – or fructans, agave, coconut syrup/nectar/sugar.
The health benefits of good chocolate:
If you’re eating pure and simple chocolate – with minimal or no sugar, no added nasties and in the raw form (ie as cacao) – then expect it to do the following:
- Protects your nervous system. Cocoa is high in resveratrol, a potent antioxidant also found in red wine, known for its ability to cross your blood-brain barrier to help protect your nervous system.
- Shields nerve cells from damage.
- Reduces your risk of cardiovascular disease.
- Reduces your risk of stroke.
- Reduces blood pressure.
- Lowers blood sugar levels and prevents weight gain. Recent research identified that a high-fat diet supplemented with oligomeric procyandins (a type of antioxidant found in cacao) was the most effective for preventing weight gain and improving glucose tolerance.