Now that it’s common knowledge that dark chocolate is good for you, I’ve found more and more reasons to explore and enjoy this delightful substance. In the same way that the news that red wine was good for heart health turned dry dockers into winos (and made more committed winos of those who were already on the sauce), I see people picking up the dark chocolate with greater regularity. This is not a bad thing.
First of all, it really is good for you. The plant phenols, specifically cocoa phenols, in dark chocolate help lower blood pressure. They also gobble up free radicals, those nasty little molecules responsible for a host of problems, from heart disease to wrinkles. Secondly, dark chocolate is simply better than its anemic cousins milk chocolate or (I shudder to say it) white chocolate. Milk and white chocolate have none of the same benefits as dark chocolate, but I feel no pity for those who reject 60% or darker cacao offerings with “it’s too bitter!” If more Americans eat dark chocolate, not only will they be healthier, but hopefully their taste will improve as well.
But on to the heart of the matter. Duane Reed and other mass-market stores are getting in on the game. Russel Stover, drugstore brand chocolatier and rescuer of last-minute cupids, has released a line called “Private Reserve.” With chocolate from Venezuela, Ghana, and Belgium, these individually-wrapped squares are an inexpensive and fun way to get your anti-oxidants while sampling the different flavors of cacao beans grown around the world.
Venezuelan is often considered the best, but I love the dark, bitter Ghanian from this line.