Healthy chocolate might sound like an oxymoron but — rejoice! — there actually is such a thing as a chocolate bar that’s good for you.
If you’re looking to eat not-so-sinful chocolate bars, you’re typically going to be eating one particular type of chocolate: dark. This probably doesn’t surprise you. You’ve likely heard someone extol the virtues of dark chocolate over milk chocolate. And, if you paid attention, you know that dark chocolate with at least 70% cocoa (aka cacao) is packed full of heart-healthy antioxidants, flavonoids and “good” fat.
But dark chocolate’s cacao is, surprisingly, also good for your tummy. Researchers from the Department of Food and Nutritional Sciences at the University of Reading in the U.K. found that cacao can promote friendly bacteria and reduce inflammation in the gut.
Some chocolate bars are even enhanced with gut-healthy prebiotics and probiotics to ensure you’re getting the most nutrition out of every bite. You know about probiotics, right? You might even have a bottle of ‘em in your medicine cabinet. To achieve optimal homeostasis in your gut, though, you need a balance of probiotics and prebiotics.
Think of it this way: Probiotics are specific strains of “good” bacteria introduced to grow and thrive in the microbes of your gut, and prebiotics essentially act as food for these bacteria. They are specialized plant fibers that stimulate the growth of healthy bacteria in the gut, according to the Mayo Clinic.
Granted, if you sit down and eat two pounds of anything, it negates the food’s health benefits. So, everything in moderation! But if you are going to indulge, reach for one of these heart- and gut-healthy chocolate bars (and if you want to know how they’re made, watch the video below!)
Norti’s Chocolate Bars
This Australian brand recently expanded to offer its special gut-boosting chocolate bars in the U.S. These bars contain both prebiotics and probiotics to encourage optimal gut bacteria and enhance the human microbiome. Norti uses soil-based probiotics, which are shelf-stable and acid-resistant. Bonus: Reviewers rave that they taste like a regular chocolate bar, but they have the health benefits of a probiotic supplement.
We’ve established that cacao is good for your gut because it encourages the synthesis of anti-inflammatory compounds. It then stands to reason that the higher percentage of cacao the better, right? The Pure7 Dark Chocolate Bar boasts a 100% cacao composition, meaning you can’t get much better, healthwise, in a chocolate bar. In full disclosure, the strong taste isn’t for everyone — but if you like your chocolate bold and a little bitter, this is the one for you.
Sunbiotics is honored to introduce the first raw, certified organic, probiotic-enhanced, gourmet stone-ground chocolate bar. This one-of-a-kind treat combines the taste of real vanilla bean and dark chocolate with the health benefits of 10 billion active probiotics and the prebiotic effects of yacon root. Plus, it’s sweetened only with low-glycemic coconut sugar, making this sweet treat a smart pick all around.
Vosges Matcha Dark & Spirulina Super Dark Chocolate Bar
Confession: I’d grab this one for the pretty packaging alone, but the health benefits would undoubtedly hook me. With 72% cacao and green tea matcha, it’s filled with antioxidants. But the big kicker here is spirulina: a superfood algae thought to promote the growth of healthy bacteria in the gut.
Noticing a pattern here? We like things that are both pretty and pack a one-two punch of taste and nutritional benefits. Like the Vosges bar, Raaka’s Pink Sea Salt Chocolate boasts some seriously dreamy packaging. But, more importantly, this craft chocolate bar made in Brooklyn contains 71 percent cacao. Not only that, it’s made with Peruvian pink sea salt sourced from the ancient salt mines of Salinas de Maras near Cusco, Peru. Why is this a big deal? Natural health practitioners like Dr. Mark Sircus believe that pink sea salt can “stimulate the peristalsis of the digestive organs, balance the stomach acid, support the production of digestive fluids in the liver and pancreas” and more.