Is Dairy-Free Chocolate Healthier?
Eat dessert first - isn't that great life advice?
If you're on a dairy-free diet you might be wondering, "are dairy-free chocolate bars healthier than the alternative?"
Maybe you've taken on this lifestyle because you have an allergy/sensitivity, or perhaps because you follow a vegan lifestyle.
Whatever the case, you'll be delighted to learn that the answer is a resounding yes. However, there are a few other things you need to know.
From a young age, we have been taught that dessert is meant to be an occasional indulgence, not enjoyed every day but only every once in a while. It's not good for you and can increase your calorie count while also adding things like sugar, trans fats, saturated fats, and even salt to your diet.
However, there are ways you can have your cake and eat it too - and we're not just saying metaphorically. Read on to learn how you can enjoy your favorite chocolatey treats without compromising on health.
What Are The Negative Effects Of Eating Milk Chocolate?
Chocolate can be good for your health in addition to your taste buds - something we'll touch upon in more detail below.
However, the dairy-sweetened form doesn't allow you to reap all the health benefits of chocolate because it has been so heavily processed.
Eating too much of it can be damaging to people who are sensitive to caffeine - because yes, it does contain caffeine. Its high sugar content can also lead to anxiety, insomnia, irregular heartbeat, and other cardiovascular and nervous system problems. It can upset your digestive system or cause acne.
Of course, the high sugar content in chocolate can also lead to weight gain and tooth decay.
If you're sensitive to dairy, let's not forget the troubles that eating milk chocolate will cause for you in that department, either.
The good news is that many of these problems and symptoms can be avoided by switching to dark chocolate, vegan chocolate, or dairy-free chocolate instead of eating milk chocolate.
What Exactly Is Dairy-Free Chocolate?
Technically, all chocolate in its purest form is dairy-free chocolate. However, both white chocolate and milk chocolate have been processed further, with things like milk, casein, whey, and other dairy products added in.
Dark chocolate, on the other hand, is by its very nature dairy-free. Some companies, unfortunately, add milk products into their dark chocolate bars to increase their creaminess and sweetness, but true-blue dark chocolate with a high percentage of cacao is usually dairy-free.
There are some companies that specialize in vegan chocolate that is dairy-free, using alternatives to cow's milk such as oat milk, almond milk, or cashew milk. These chocolate bars can still be healthy, but not if they're loaded with other fillers to help "mask" the bitterness of the cacao and make the chocolate bar seem like it's really made out of milk.
If you want to be certain that your chocolate is dairy-free, simply look at the ingredient label. You can check the allergens section for lactose or dairy.
Is Dairy-Free Chocolate Really Healthier Than Milk Chocolate?
Dark chocolate is healthier than milk chocolate for several reasons. As long as you consume dark chocolate in moderation (just as you would any other treat), you'll be able to add all of these benefits to your diet.
To get the most out of your chocolate bar, look for one that contains 70% cacao or higher. It will taste more bitter, but you'll get the most health benefits.
Fend Off Weight Gain
One of the biggest benefits of eating dairy-free chocolate like dark chocolate is that it is high in a specific type of antioxidant known as oligomeric procyanidin. This flavanol has been shown to help laboratory mice prevent excess weight gain.
The darker the chocolate, the better - otherwise, the excess sugar in the chocolate will neutralize the ability of the chocolate to prevent weight gain.
While small amounts of milk chocolate may be acceptable in a healthy diet, the positive benefits of the cacao are going to be more or less minimized by the high sugar and fat content found in milk chocolate.
You know how much happier you feel when you reach for that mid-afternoon chocolate bar - and you're not just imagining it!
Besides being delicious - something that's sure to give you a mood boost in and of itself - chocolate is loaded with compounds that can lower your stress levels and decrease your anxiety.
There are some studies that suggest that eating a small amount of dark chocolate (again, the darker the better) can help reduce cortisol levels. Cortisol is the hormone responsible for stress, and while it's necessary in small doses, too much can lead to health problems.
Lower the Risk of Chronic Disease
None of us are going to live forever, but if you're like most people, there is probably a good chance that you want to do everything you can to get the most of the years you do have. The good news is that you can satisfy your sweet tooth and make healthy choices at the same time.
By reaching for dark chocolate - or plant-based chocolate brands - you'll be making a smart choice. Dark chocolate intake is associated with lower risks of stroke, diabetes, coronary heart disease, and more.
All kinds of chronic health conditions can be prevented by eating chocolate since it contains flavonoids like procyanidins, catechin, and epicatechin.
Better Digestive Health
It might seem ironic that eating chocolate can lead to better digestive health - because too much milk chocolate can give you a serious stomachache!
However, when consumed in moderation - and once again, chocolate with a higher percentage of cocoa is ideal here - chocolate has the ability to balance out the levels of good vs bad bacteria in your gut.
Some studies suggest that cocoa polyphenols may act as prebiotics, offering another benefit for your digestive tract.
Some inflammation is a good thing - but too much inflammation can lead to a variety of health problems.
Milk chocolate is going to be more likely to increase your levels of inflammation because again, it contains so much sugar and unhealthy fats. Instead, turn to dairy-free chocolate like dark chocolate.
It contains flavonoids that have anti-inflammatory properties - these can offset your risk of heart disease, diabetes, and cancer.
What Are The Healthiest Dairy-Free Chocolate Bars?
When you're shopping for chocolate that will be delicious but also help boost your health, you'll find dozens of delicious dairy-free chocolate brands to choose from. How do you pick the right one?
Start by looking at the percentage of cacao in the bar. This will give you a good idea of how pure and unprocessed the chocolate is.
Vegan chocolate is often a better alternative to regular chocolate. Not only is it dairy-free, but it also doesn't contain white sugar (a non-vegan food that negates many of the health benefits of chocolate as listed above).
Some vegan chocolate companies still rely on fillers and chemicals to make their products sweet and creamy. That's why you should only trust in MidDay Squares.
What Makes MidDay Squares The Best Dairy-Free Chocolate?
MidDay Squares is a vegan, dairy-free chocolate company that offers an assortment of flavorful, functional chocolate bars. These have all the benefits of protein bars with 12 grams of protein, 3 grams of fiber, and 1.5 grams of omega-3s, offering a nutritional boost that surpasses even that of regular dark chocolate.
These chocolate squares also do not contain any GMOs, gluten, soy, or animal products - they're 100% organic with zero preservatives.
You'll get all the amazing health benefits of dairy-free chocolate - but the taste is out of this world. Best yet, you'll be able to indulge guilt-free at any time of the day - pick up some MidDay Squares for a boost of energy morning, noon, or night, and you'll begin to reap the health benefits almost immediately.