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It’s hard to balance good nutrition without spending a lot.

In this series, we’re trying to find the healthiest options at the supermarket for the best value — and we’ve asked for help Suna van KampenFounder of Tonic Health, which went viral on social media for its food reviews in search of healthy options.

In this series, we’re not trying to find the healthiest option, but to help you get better nutritional value for as little money as possible.

Today we’re looking at chocolate – and why, as long as sugar and dairy are added, it’s a superfood, according to Sunna.

A superfood is anything that has a very high “nutrient density” – or a lot of nutrients for a few calories.

Superfoods need high concentrations of antioxidants—molecules that neutralize unstable molecules that can harm your cells.

You can get antioxidants by buying expensive “green” powders, but Sunna says plenty of supermarket options can be classified as “superfoods.”

“Chocolate isn’t unhealthy, it’s actually a superfood—it’s the added sugar that’s the problem,” he says.

“Chocolate costs just £27.50/kg in supermarkets, almost half the price of your cheapest herb powder.”

Sunna points out that cocoa, from which chocolate is made, is a superfood in its own right and contains more antioxidants than blueberries, acai berries, and cranberries—well-known superfoods.

“Cacao actually has 40 times more antioxidants than raw blueberries,” he says.

But, he says, added sugar is where the problems start.

Sunna’s guide to buying chocolate

Sunna recommends choosing chocolate that contains a high proportion of cocoa solids – which reduces sugar content.

Here’s how the different types of chocolate stack up:

  • milk – 25% cocoa solids, 54 grams of sugar per 100 grams.
  • Slow – 47% cocoa solids, 49 grams of sugar per 100 grams.
  • 70% dark – 70% cocoa solids, 29 g of sugar per 100 g
  • 85% dark – 85% cocoa solids, 15 grams of sugar per 100 grams
  • 90% dark – 90% cocoa solids, 7g of sugar per 100g

“Typical milk chocolate contains only 25% cocoa solids, and the first two ingredients are milk and sugar,” says Suna.

“For chocolate to be a superfood, it has to be dark chocolate – at least 70% dark ideally.”

A few bars after dinner every night means you’ll be eating 200g of superfood chocolate for £5.50 a week.

“If you’re a milk chocolate lover, don’t worry,” says Suna. “It’s possible to retrain your taste buds in just 10 days to get 70% or more of the superfood benefits.”

This may sound easier said than done, but Sunna says the trick is to start with low percentages and work your way up to higher percentages.

“Get to a level you’re comfortable with and then make sure you have a piece of chocolate every night for 10 days,” she says.

“The more you train your taste buds, the less sugar you consume.”

Switching from milk chocolate to 70% dark will save you 2.6kg of sugar per year, and working up to 90% will save you over 4.8kg of sugar per year (assuming you consume 200g per week).

“Small changes to chocolate—and a little work to train your taste buds—can add up to huge sugar savings that are worth not only the sugar reduction, but also the antioxidant boost,” Sunna concludes.

Read more in this series…

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