Cozy evenings hibernating at home call for one thing: excessive chocolate consumption. I don’t think it’s just me – sweet teeth come into their own as the festive season approaches and the Quality Street tin gets whipped out with wild abandon. But, as we are all aware, chocolate is not good for us. Or is it?
According to Tim Spector, a professor of genetic epidemiology at King’s College London and scientific co-founder of Zoe, actually it is – you’ve just got to get the right kind. “I’ve got news for you,” he said in a video on his Instagram page. “Chocolate is a health food.” He’s not talking about Dairy Milk or Galaxy bars though, but dark chocolate over 70% in cocoa.
With “around 10 grams of fibre – more than half the average intake of fibre in most Western countries”, dark chocolate is also packed with polyphenols. While fibre is key for managing blood sugar levels, improving gut health and lowering inflammation, polyphenols are a compound found in plant foods with strong antioxidant power, amongst other health-boosting benefits.
In the video, Professor Spector references a recent (and large) study of 20,000 people that took place over three and a half years. Those who took cocoa extract supplements during this time were 20% less likely to die of heart disease than the placebo group. So yes, actually, dark chocolate really is worth incorporating into your diet for better health.
Which to devour? As mentioned, it’s all about opting for bars that are over 70 per cent cocoa, but you should also check the label to ensure your chosen chocolate contains a minimal number of ingredients. The fewer the additives – and the less sugar – the better. “Artisan [chocolate bars] are the best ones – they’ve only got two or three ingredients in them,” Professor Spector says, name-checking cocoa and fermented beans as two heroes.
As a sworn chocolate devotee myself, Montezuma’s dark chocolate bars hit the mark on a taste and health level – try the Spice It Up Ginger Dark Chocolate, which has a delicious fiery kick to it, and try to avoid eating the entire thing. We’ll be joining Professor Spector in having a few squares after dinner each night.
Originally published in Vogue.co.uk