If you’ve met me then you probably know I’m really passionate about cacao. Wait, so not chocolate? Well, yes I make good chocolate, so I love it! But everything starts with cacao. Cacao is one of the most amazing, complex food substances available. So I am really passionate about sourcing and using beautiful, ethical, organic cacao. In this post I am going to discuss why we should be much more discerning about our chocolate choices.
First let me talk a little about the terrible reputation chocolate has in the western world. Notice that I said chocolate there and not cacao. You don’t hear statements like “Cacao makes you obese”, “Cacao gives you spots”, “Cacao leads to clogged arteries”, “Cacao is a leading cause of diabetes”. Have you ever heard that, from anyone, ever? I guess not, I know I haven’t. So then, what can we take from this. It is probably likely that the chocolate we are used to, and the amount which we are eating, is very bad for us. We can say that eating sugary mass produced chocolate is not good. It is probably terribly unhealthy and carries no nutritional value for your body. If you want to aim for a healthier diet you should perhaps consider ditching it, or at least cutting down considerably. But let me be clear, it is most definitely not the cacao. Chocolate’s slutty, gutter reputation is because of the very low, non-organic cacao content AND all the other stuff added to it. In particular (but not the only culprit), is white cane sugar.
Dr Francesco Branca, director of WHO’s Department of Nutrition for Health and Development, says: “We have solid evidence that keeping intake of free sugars to less than 10% of total energy intake reduces the risk of overweight, obesity and tooth decay.” (Emphasis added) (Source)
Here is a list of the ingredients in a Cadbury’s dairy milk and a Reese’s Cup:
This also made me laugh (and then cry)…when your website says your nutritional and wellbeing info doesn’t exist!
(As a side note, I found it very hard to find out exactly what is in a Hershey’s bar and it was impossible to find out where it was all sourced from.)
Cadbury’s Dairy Milk
INGREDIENTS: Milk, sugar, cocoa butter, cocoa mass, vegetable fats (palm, shea), emulsifiers (E442, E476), flavourings. MAY CONTAIN: NUTS, WHEAT. CONTAINS: MILK.
REESE’S Peanut Butter Cups
INGREDIENTS: MILK CHOCOLATE [SUGAR; COCOA BUTTER; CHOCOLATE; NONFAT MILK; MILK FAT; LACTOSE; LECITHIN (SOY); PGPR (EMULSIFIER)]; PEANUTS; SUGAR; DEXTROSE; SALT; TBHQ AND CITRIC ACID (TO MAINTAIN FRESHNESS)
So just taking Cadbury’s dairy milk, there is 25g of sugar in one bar! A bar only weighs 45g. That means it is 55% pure sugar! Pure white cane sugar. This has no nutritional benefit to your body whatsoever. In fact this represents your entire RDA of sugar. You would need to avoid all forms of sugar for the rest of the day after eating just 45g of chocolate. Here is what that looks like:
So the WHO says they have “solid evidence” that sugar is a killer! No wonder chocolate has such a dirrrrty reputation when it’s loaded to the brim with the white poison. But it isn’t just about the sugar, sorry there’s more bad news. Lets look at the Reese’s cup. See those little acronyms…? PGPR and TBHQ. Firstly anything that is written like this should be seriously questioned, let me translate it, “chemical shitstorm”. I kid you not! – “PGPR is a way for chocolate manufacturers to get around the hassle and expense of actually putting chocolate in their chocolate.” (BTW, by ‘chocolate’ they mean ‘cacao’) (Source) (another source). PGPR (or sometimes E476) is a chemical emulsifier that allows oil and water products to be mixed and remain stable, it also allows a manufacturer to reduce or replace costly raw materials like cacao butter (Erm, what now?!). So the chocolate made with this has that heavy gloopy feeling on the tongue that we are all so used to. You know, where it sticks to your mouth and still feels all solidish so you can chew it? That is NOT GOOD CHOCOLATE! That is not the way chocolate should be enjoyed.
TBHQ (you will also see it written as E319 in food) is actually a form of butane, yes that’s correct, a fossil fuel. It is simply there as a preservative to increase the shelf life to 24 months or more. TWO YEARS! That chocolate was made over two years ago. Here is a little snapshot of what 1-4 grams of TBHQ can offer you: “Consuming high doses (between 1 and 4 grams) of TBHQ can cause nausea, delirium, collapse, tinnitus (ringing in the ears), and vomiting. There are also suggestions that it may lead to hyperactivity in children as well as asthma, rhinitis and dermatitis. It may also further aggravate ADHD symptoms and cause restlessness.” (source). It has been completely blacklisted by the Feingold diet for children with ADHD and Autism (source).
Big confectionary corporations have literally ruined cacao for us. They have destroyed our palettes with sugars, oils, additives, preservatives and emulsifiers. Why? There is only one answer, money. Cacao is really expensive, it is also really natural and as a plant it degrades over time. It melts at inconvenient temperatures. It doesn’t store well in certain conditions (sunlight + moisture = bad). All this is a bit of a headache for large multinationals who have very cross and demanding shareholders to answer to. So over time they replace the really costly natural stuff, little by little, with really cheap fake stuff. A voila…a 60p bar of chocolate packed to the brim with “joy” for all the family. I know I’m probably not the ‘fun girl’ at the party, but hey, do you know what I am calling time on all this, I’m not eating it and I’m not giving it to my kids.
So, what to do? For me it is simple, buy good chocolate less often. Eat less of it, but eat really good quality, low sugar, clean chocolate. Find manufacturers that make it in a really traditional way and have made promises never to use cheap, fake replacements for cacao, or try to preserve their products for 1000 years. Here are some comrades that I really love and would be happy to eat. (Ps. You can also eat mine):
Divine (using soy emulsifier, but their ethical credentials are outstanding)
Seed & Bean (also using soy, but 100% of cacao is organic and ethically sourced)
All these have between 20-30% sugar though, so be aware that they are still sugary. Still much less than those previously discussed however.
In the interests of transparency here are the ingredients in my signature vanilla:
Organic cacao beans, Organic cacao butter, organic Madagascan vanilla, Himalayan pink salt, plant syrup made of carob, apple and grape (12%).
Make sure you check out our shop for some good chocolate
Thanks for reading, come back again to hear about quitting dairy.