I’ll admit it. I’m a chocolate snob. I can easily turn my nose up at cheap, overly sweet, tasteless milk chocolate. It actually burns my throat and has next to no flavor other than sugar, sugar, and more sugar. But I didn’t always think this way. I slowly grew into my deep and abiding love of dark chocolate. Below you’ll find my spiffy evaluation of three brands. I promise an honest review.
Oh, what I won’t do for YOU, my readers!
I worked my way UP the chocolate food chain many years ago and wrote about the process in my book, FibroWHYalgia. Bit by bit (bite by bite), I shifted from the overly sweet milk chocolate to darker and darker varieties of chocolate.
I had no idea back then that I was actually doing my body some good. In recent years, studies have shown connections to improved mood, lowered blood sugar, and even improved cardiovascular health from consuming RAW dark chocolate. (Mmmm….)
But, did you know that it can be good for the health of your digestive tract, too?
Due to the amazing nutritional benefits of flavonoids, theobromine, and serotonin, dark chocolate has more health-related benefits than you may think.
It turns out that chocolate is a lot like you and me. There’s a saying that we’re the sum of our five closest friends. Well, chocolate is only as good as what it’s combined with. It’s naturally healthy, but has acquired a bad rap from its affiliation with sub-par ingredients like unhealthy oils, copious amounts of cheap sugar, and other artificial, crappy ingredients.
The good news is that you can make better choices and elevate your chocolate from junk food to super food.
I now prefer 90% dark varieties with 3 or fewer grams of sugar per serving.
That’s just me.
I’ll review 3 brands today so that you have some idea of what to look for and what’s available. Here they are in order of my preference.
1) Xtasy Chocolate
Several months ago, I read an article from the delightful Jon Douillard on his favorite sustainable chocolate sources.
I looked up his suggestions, checked out their ingredients, and chose one to contact. I emailed Xtasy Chocolate since I liked everything I read about them and they manufacture right here in the good ‘ol U.S. In Oregon, to be specific.
Here’s what I love about Xtasy Chocolates:
- They responded without hesitation to my request and eagerly offered samples. They’re passionate about what they make and are open out where their ingredients are sourced and why they use what they do.
- They only use 4 ingredients – and they’re all PREMIUM ingredients. I mean, first rate.
- There are only 2 grams of sugar per serving while offering 4 grams of fiber and 3 grams of protein. HOWEVER, their serving size is 28 grams so I savor less of it.)
- The grainy texture of the palm sugar is a unique and delightful surprise. I learned that when it comes to sugar crystals – size matters!
- They keep the processing temperatures down below 118 degrees making this chocolate raw and healthy, as well as yummy.
- And, did I mention it’s delicious!!
Here’s the “oops!” about Xtasy Chocolates:
- They’re currently under factory renovations. They say they’ll open in “The Spring,” so let’s hope that’s very soon!
- Because they’re a small company, their products aren’t as easy to come by. They’re shipped with ice packs for purity purposes so that means increased shipping prices. And, they’re a pricey chocolate (but worth it!) to begin with. Let’s hope they get national distribution in the very near future.
2) Lindt 90% Supreme Dark Chocolate
Perhaps I shouldn’t mention how long I’ve consumed (or more to the point, how much) of this chocolate over the years. But, I will anyway. I think I’ve favored this bar for more than 10 years now.
Lindt brand used to be a real treat that I originally discovered at a Scandinavian import store in Solvang, California. It’s now very mainstream. I have one or two squares per day of this dark treat and it hits the spot after mealtime.
A funny side note: I use this bar as a prop when I give health food lectures. It’s always good for an audience laugh. I mention that I’m going to create my own tasty treats by combining the products of two well-known companies. I plan to pair premium chocolate with premium ice cream to make fabulous bonbons. Good plan, eh? It sounds good until I mention the name I’ve come up with for my new product — Dryers-Lindt Balls. (Hmm … sounds a bit furry.)
Here’s what I enjoy about Lindt 90% Supreme Dark Chocolate:
- There are only 3 grams of sugar per serving (40g) with 5 grams of fiber and 4 grams of protein.
- Its smooth flavor has become a welcomed and looked-forward-to treat for me after meals.
- It’s super easy to find. I can even find it at my local Target stores.
- It’s reasonably priced (that means cheap).
Here’s what’s not so great about Lindt 90% Supreme Dark Chocolate:
- I’m not naïve enough to believe that Lindt searches the jungles of Ecuador to find the richest and darkest chocolate beans. I’m sure their ingredients are better than Hershey (yuck!), but not as good as some other premium brands.
- It’s disappointing that they choose to use cocoa rather than cacao powder (see the next point).
- The cocoa powder is processed/cooked. In particular, they use a “dutching process” (using alkali). Darn it. This means it has fewer of the all-important health benefits that make dark chocolate healthy in the first place. It’s interesting to note that some other varieties of Lindt with lower percentages of cocoa don’t use alkali. I have to at least give ‘em props for noting it on the label.
3) The Dark Chocolate Lover’s Chocolate Bar from Trader Joe’s (85% cacao)
This is a new entry into the race for my chocolate flavor favorite. I don’t know if it’s the increased sugar content, but there’s a very unique flavor in this dark chocolate that I find quite appealing. I read another blogger’s opinion who said it tasted almost marshmallow-ey. Maybe? I hate to say that because for anyone who’s not a dark, dark chocolate aficionado, they might not have that same delicious reaction.
Here’s what I liked about the Dark Chocolate Lover’s Chocolate Bar by Trader Joe’s:
- It’s very reasonably priced.
- It’s tasty and uniquely flavored. I really can’t pinpoint the flavor difference from other chocolates, but it’s yummy to me.
- I like that they use very few ingredients.
Here’s what I’m unsure about the Dark Chocolate Lover’s Chocolate Bar by Trader Joe’s:
- The label reads cocoa rather than cacao, so I know it’s a processed chocolate. But I couldn’t find anywhere if they use alkali. The jury is still out.
- Not all the ingredients are super-high quality.
So, there you have it! Want to indulge in some chocolate tasting of your own?
What’s your favorite brand and variety of chocolate?
And, what’s your favorite way to enjoy it?
More chocolate news! Want to know what new scientific studies are saying about dark chocolate and its amazing health benefits? For a deeper dive into the benefits, check out my comprehensive ProHealth Chocolate and Fibromyalgia article here.