How to Choose the Best Chocolate

variety of chocolates
Dark chocolate bar with nuts
Choosing a chocolate bar can be overwhelming. There are so many options, so how do you know what to pick? 
The health benefits of chocolate come from the cocoa. The higher the percentage of cocoa, the better. If you are new to dark chocolate, the taste may be intense at first. Luckily, there is a wide range of different dark chocolate flavors. From sea salt to cayenne pepper, it's easy to find one that tickles your taste buds just the right way.
Picking out the best chocolate bar requires reading the label. First, look at the nutrition facts. If you can find a chocolate bar that has at least as much fiber as sugar, that’s a good start. Next, check the ingredients and avoid cocoa that has been “processed with alkali”. This process, called dutching, makes cocoa less bitter. But it also destroys the beneficial properties contained in cocoa. 
The cacao bean only grows in the tropics. Choosing fair trade chocolate helps promote sustainability and better working conditions for developing countries. Fair trade chocolate can be slightly more expensive, but consider your purchase is supporting fair wages for workers around the globe. Added bonus if you choose chocolate that is also organic.
Next time you eat a piece of chocolate, instead of biting in, let one piece melt in your mouth. You’ll eat less, enjoy all the flavor, and feel more satisfied.
—By Joanna Wirkus, Bastyr dietetic intern, and Amy Frasieur, MS, RD, core faculty in the Department of Nutrition and Exercise Science at Bastyr University.