Thursday, April 20, 2006

The Chocolate War.

Last night, NBC nightlynews had a 'fun' report on a European study showing how chocolate can be good for men's health. (not that this is a new theme, see here) It was fun but not very informational. and even slightly misleading. it showed pictures of cheap milk chocolate but in fact, it is the 'chocolate' that is good but the cocoa in it.

Two studies seem to confirm this:
One study at the Erasmus University Medical Centre, in Rotterdam, and reported in the British Medical Journal, suggests that eating 50g of dark chocolate — which has to contain at least 35 per cent cocoa — a day may reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke by 10.5 per cent. Another study, at Heinrich-Heine-University, Düsseldorf, found that cocoa can reverse some of the ill-health effects of smoking, while yet another, at the University of Kuopio, Finland, reports that dark chocolate increases good cholesterol. (Times)
So forget about your M&Ms or your Mars bar or even your Hershey's. In fact, in my experience, one of the major differences between the US and Europe is that it can be really hard to find good-quality chocolate in the US (even though it is not as bad today as it used to be).
The reason is that most American chocolate companies use non-cocoa fat which reduces the cost of production rather than cocoa fat. In fact, even if you buy "dark chocolate" in the US, it will simply not taste as good as in Europe. Why? Well, precisely because American chocolates have a lower percentage requirement of cocoa liquor for dark chocolate, some dark chocolate may have sugar as the top ingredient. (the U.S. Government calls 'dark chocolate' "sweet chocolate", and requires a 15% concentration of chocolate liquor. European rules specify a minimum of 35% cocoa solids.).
There has been disagreement within the EU as regard to the definition of chocolate precisely between those (countries) who want to keep a more strict definition of chocolate (France) and those who want a more relaxed definition (Britain), with less cocoa fat. It is worth noting that in those countries in favor of less cocoa-fat, 50% to 70% cocoa solid dark-chocolate, with no additive, for domestic use, is hard to find and expensive.
This is a major issue for those of us who are not just chocoholics but also real chocolate amateur.


At 03:50, Anonymous Abie said...

I call to resistance!
I'm ready to march the streets to defend my access to decent dark chocolate : toffee and other british-style chocolate confections are nice, but do not compare with real dark over-50%-cacao chocolate.
And I'm not half as purist as some people I know...

At 09:10, Blogger Joker & Thief said...

I agree wiht you, let's have a 'chocolate demonstration' - worldwide!
Choholics of the World Unite!


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