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Come to the Dark Side

By: Wei Qing Lim

One poignant moment in my childhood that fueled my love for chocolate is the “I Almost Drowned in a Chocolate Fountain” episode on the iconic show, “Wizards of Waverly Place,” where Alex Russo is bitten by a pocket elf that is crazy about chocolate. What follows the bite is a wonderfully chaotic mess: Alex goes on a hazy chocolate devouring spree and inhales everything from a chocolate cake, gulps on a chocolate fountain, and my personal favorite, eats a chocolate cup filled with whipped cream.

I can 100% relate to Alex Russo. Dark chocolate is my favorite snack of all time. While I can’t pinpoint the exact moment when my love for chocolate started, I know that it began from a young age. I remember the excitement of opening a new box of chocolates and immediately picking out the 72% dark chocolate squares that lay amongst the white and milk chocolate squares. After collecting at least 3 squares, I would sit down, gingerly take my first bite, and savor the bittersweet flavors of the Godiva chocolate.

What is dark chocolate, anyway? Are there benefits to eating dark chocolate? And for the dark chocolate lovers, is there a reason that justifies how much chocolate we consume? To start, dark chocolate contains flavonoids or plant chemicals. Flavonoids are antioxidants that reduce inflammation in the body, lower bad LDL cholesterol, and reduce heart disease. Dark chocolate has the most flavonoids, while milk chocolate contains some, and white chocolate doesn’t contain any. It also contains minerals such as iron, copper, magnesium, which may help boost your immune system. While eating dark chocolate seems beneficial, it is dense and high in calories, so it’s important to consume in moderate amounts.

Remember the viral video of kids trying dark chocolate for the first time, and absolutely hating it? It ultimately comes down to nature. Kids tend to taste bitterness more intensely than adults-- therefore kids are more likely to find the taste of bitter foods unappealing because it is associated with things in nature that may be poisonous, while sweet things are appealing. That isn’t to say that all kids are the same-- some like sweeter, milkier chocolate, and some don’t like chocolate at all. I was one of the few kids who specifically chose to eat dark chocolate-- I didn’t have a lot of candy growing up and was only allowed to eat Laffy Taffy once in a while. This may have played a role in why I gravitated towards bitter chocolate.

I decided to do some more digging and found some quick, bite-sized facts about dark chocolate to share!

  1. The higher percentage of dark chocolate, the more caffeine it contains-- in 70% dark chocolate, 2 oz contains 50-60 mg of caffeine, while an 8 oz cup of coffee contains 100-200 mg of caffeine.

  2. Dark chocolate that is 70% or above is considered high quality!

  3. Cocoa was believed to be an aphrodisiac because people reported less stress and improved energy levels.

If you want a dark chocolate recommendation, my current favorite snack combination is Trader Joe’s 85% dark chocolate (I love to have some walnuts with it)-- don’t knock it till you try it! It is a decadent snack that is perfect as a pick-me-up during the day or an after-dinner dessert!

  1. Trader Joe’s The Dark Chocolate Lover’s Bar (85%)

  2. Venchi’s Nocciolata Chocolight Dark Chocolate Hazelnut Bar

  3. Endangered Species Chocolate, Strong + Velvety Dark Chocolate (88%)

  4. Ghiradelli’s Intense Dark Twilight Delight 72% Cacao Chocolate Squares

  5. Hu’s Salty Dark Chocolate Bar

Here are some websites that I found useful:

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