Chocolate is a relatively recent indulgence that is often labeled as off limits by people on the Paleo diet. Of course, if you’re a purist, there’s no denying the fact that our Paleolithic ancestors simply didn’t access this sinfully delectable sweet. However, chocolate can be good if eaten in moderation.
This article will look at a number of chocolate facts and go over its many pros and cons. Afterwards, you should be able to determine whether continuing to consume chocolate goes against or along with your goals of following the Paleo diet.
Take note that the facts outlined here are general in nature, applying to most healthy individuals. Remember that some people react to chocolate and chocolate-containing foods in specific ways, so your decision should depend upon your circumstances.
Where It’s From
Chocolate is a processed food taken from the seeds of the cacao tree. The cocoa bean, when fermented, yields cocoa butter and solids, which are used to prepare dark chocolate. Cocoa butter on the other hand, is used to produce white chocolate.
On its own, cocoa solids are bitter, which is the reason why sugar and flavorings are added to improve their taste. Chocolate purists prefer to consume chocolate on its own, or at the very least, choose chocolate with little added sugar.
For people on the Paleo diet, chocolate can cause problems when mixed with milk, resulting in the popular milk chocolate. Milk and high amounts of sugar as you know, are not welcome in any decent Paleo diet meal plan.
Dark chocolate is rich in minerals such as manganese, iron, copper and magnesium. It’s a good snack to ease cravings for sweet foods, but contains very low sugar levels. Chocolate is also high in beneficial antioxidants, the body’s solution against the proliferation of damaging free radicals.
Chocolate contains high levels of phytic acid, which binds to important minerals such as magnesium, iron and calcium, thus preventing the body from absorbing them. Chocolate is also sometimes prepared by adding soy lecithin, and most soy is genetically modified, and it’s not on the Paleo diet anyway. For those who eat large quantities of chocolate, the sugar content can quickly add up. Chocolate also contains oxalates, which can hasten the forming of kidney stones.
There’s no doubt that chocolate is an enjoyable food eaten mainly for its diversity and enjoyment, and not its health effects. It’s a great and relatively harmless addition to the Paleo diet, and when compared to grains, certain vegetable oils and sugar, is far more beneficial to your health. To be safe, make sure to stick with dark chocolate made with more than 50 percent cocoa solids and low levels of sugar.