Many chocolate enthusiasts are going to be fuming at this claim, but there is simply no denying that vegan chocolate is much better for your health than the standard one, full of dairy and other harmful ingredients. It doesn’t even have to be a product branded as “vegan” — more often than not, simple dark chocolate bars are dairy-free as well.
Of course, if you’re not a fan of the rather rough, bitter taste of dark chocolate, you won’t be convinced by the health benefits of it and give up the sweet, creamy flavor of the milk varieties. Luckily, veganism is on the rise, and the food industry would not pass up on the opportunity to make some money off of this trend. There are plenty of plant-based, dairy-free bars that do a pretty good job of imitating the taste of milk chocolate.
You can even find some fine dining restaurant quality wholesale chocolate if you own a vegan establishment and want to expand upon the desserts you’ve got on offer. The times have changed — vegan products have evolved from synthetic, tasteless imitations to original and flavorful alternatives made of genuine ingredients.
If you’re wondering how to make the switch from non-vegan to completely dairy-free chocolate and why you should do so in the first place, this article has all the answers you could possibly need.
Believe it or not, but there are actually many benefits associated with eating a moderate amount of dark chocolate from time to time. Since it is made solely out of cacao beans and cocoa powder, it’s vegan, and therefore, it wouldn’t be a stretch to say that these benefits also apply to vegan chocolate products, provided that they’re not full of sugar to compensate for the lack of dairy.
As counterintuitive as it may sound, dark chocolate is actually quite nutritious — a 100g bar of it contains as much as 11% of fiber and most of your recommended daily intake of iron, magnesium, copper, and manganese. Other valuable elements found in chocolate include potassium, zinc, and phosphorus. Of course, it doesn’t mean that you should eat a hundred grams of chocolate every day to stay nourished. Don’t forget that cocoa-derived products are also rich in calories and a chocolate bar of 100g contains as many as 600 of them!
On top of the nutritional value, cocoa is also rich in antioxidants, protecting your cells from free radicals, which are correlated with health disease and other potentially deadly illnesses, such as cancer. A lot of plant-based foods are rich in antioxidants, but scientists have found cocoa to have exceptionally high levels of antioxidant activity.
Additionally, the bioactive ingredients found in cocoa can contribute to lowering your blood pressure and improving blood flow.
How to Pick the Best Vegan Chocolate
The market is oversaturated with vegan foods, including vegan chocolate brands. That is certainly good news for the community, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that all of these products are good for you. Some of them are actually downright unhealthy, which goes in line with the worrying trend of companies branding heavily processed junk foods as “healthy” in order to increase sales. This, unfortunately, includes most dairy-free chocolates that use milk substitutes to replicate the creamy, sweet flavor.
The key to finding healthy and flavorful vegan chocolate is carefully examining the ingredient list on the packaging and picking out those that do not use substitutes that are even more harmful than eggs and dairy. Vegan desserts are particularly susceptible to such manipulations, as, with the removal of eggs and milk, manufacturers often turn towards gums and starches to get the right texture. This can in turn increase the calorie count and have a negative impact on your overall health.
When it comes to chocolate, you should be particularly wary of coconut oil. Many producers overuse it in their chocolate bars and other candy, as it can replicate the “milk effect” quite well. It’s much cheaper than raw cacao butter, which is a bit healthier when used in larger amounts (although equally fattening). There is nothing wrong with implementing moderate amounts of coconut oil in your cooking, but that isn’t how these companies use this particular ingredient.
Moderation is Key
Just like with everything in life, excessive eating of dark chocolate will not have a positive impact on your health. If you want to enjoy all of the benefits of vegan chocolate outlined above, you should be aware of its calorie count and healthy eating practices.
One or two cubes of chocolate or adding a little bit of cocoa butter to your vegan dessert can help you maintain the right nutrition levels without running the risk of gaining weight or more severe health problems.
If you’re a total health freak and don’t want too much fat in your diet, you should also consider sprinkling cocoa solids, such as its powder onto your desserts, to limit the fat content of the dish. It’s got the same characteristic flavor, with much less fat.
The Bottom Line
There are plenty of vegan chocolate products for you to choose from in 2020. They’re completely dairy-free and even carry some unexpected health benefits along. Things such as cocoa butter, if used in moderation, can revolutionize your diet by providing a healthy alternative to the processed, saturated fats that are often used as ingredients in vegan desserts by big candy corporations.
If you’re not too skilled in the kitchen and would still like to buy ready-made vegan sweets, you should remember to always double-check the list of ingredients. Don’t forget that it takes a lot more resources to make a healthy vegan dessert, and therefore you should be particularly wary of cheap vegan products — they almost certainly use fattening, processed ingredients as replacements for milk and eggs.