1235 Apalachee Parkway, Tallahassee FL •  850.942.2557


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Ask An Expert: Is Chocolate Healthy?

New Leaf Gets SRSLY Serious About Chocolate

It’s about the time of year again; when you’re straddling the line between New Year’s resolutions and Valentine’s Day; between no sweets and all of the sweets. For some, this can become a mind-numbing experience. After all, what’s Valentine’s Day without chocolate? Just another day…

Well, it turns out, that you can have chocolate in moderation without gaining an ounce of guilt (or weight). While we like to think we’re experts on all-things-chocolate due to the fact that our editor might be slightly obsessed with it, we decided to pick the brain of an actual expert, Bob Williamson from SRSLY Chocolate, to learn more about this sweet-tooth staple.

Let’s start with the basics: what is cacao and is cacao cocoa?

Cacao theobroma is plant that grows in the tropics. We eat the ground seed of the cacao tree in the form of chocolate. One way to look at chocolate is basically as a seed butter. [Cacao vs cocoa] ends up kind of being a 'tomato, tomahto' thing. The word originates from a number of Mesoamerican languages and has been written different ways. So say what sounds right to you!

What is the difference between cacao beans and cacao nibs? Can both be eaten raw?

Cacao beans are the seeds of the cacao tree. The nibs are the 'meat' of the seed with its papery shell removed. Both are edible unroasted and have great flavor.

Are there any benefits to adding chocolate to a healthy diet?

Dark chocolate in moderation definitely has a number of health benefits. There are a ton of unique chemicals that can lower blood pressure, lower cholesterol, boost serotonin, elevate your mood and reduce the risk of stroke.

What does it mean when a product is 70%, 80%, etc. cacao? Does this affect the taste? Is there a certain percentage someone should seek out if they are trying to reap the health benefits that chocolate has to offer?

Cacao percentages refer to the total amount of cacao solids in the bar. Basically, how much of the chocolate bar is made from cacao beans. Darker percentages have more cacao in them and often they can be a little bitter. As a craft-chocolate maker, the way you roast the beans can reduce bitterness. I've tasted 100% bars that would have fooled me for a 70%! They exist; just look for quality makers. Generally, the darker the bar, the more cacao (good stuff) and less sugar (not-so-good stuff). If you are focusing on the health benefits of cacao, the darker the better. Also, consider adding cacao nibs to your diet. They contain no sugar with all of the health benefits of chocolate. They are great in smoothies or added to yogurt, granola, or oatmeal.

What's your take on white and milk chocolate? If someone is looking to add chocolate to their diet, should they stick with dark chocolate?

I love chocolate in all of its forms and they can have a place in everyone's diet! White chocolate has no cacao solids, so it’s not the strongest candidate for a health food (enjoy sparingly). Milk chocolate has more cacao but still quite a bit of sugar (also enjoy sparingly). Dark chocolate, 70% and above, is really a better choice in terms of less sugar and more healthy cacao solids.

If someone is looking for a caffeinated, midday pick-me-up, would a piece of SRSLY Chocolate do the trick?

Fun fact about chocolate, it technically doesn't contain caffeine! It contains theobromine! Theobromine is a caffeine analogue. It is still a stimulant but it affects your body a little differently. The energy 'buzz' from theobromine is generally gentler and more focused than caffeine. Some folks who get 'coffee jitters' have a better experience with theobromine. Fun Tallahassee tie in: The yaupon tree that grows all over Tallahassee and the Gulf Coast is the only other indigenous American plant that also has theobromine. It has been consumed as a tea for thousands of years (still is!)

Finally, tell us a little bit about SRSLY Chocolate!

Since we've moved to Austin, Texas, we've experienced a lot of growth. While we're still Floridians at heart, Texas has been very welcoming and we've had the good fortune of expanding our production dramatically. We're pleased to announce that in the spring we'll be opening a new storefront to complement our chocolate factory!

There you have it, folks; from the craft-chocolate man himself: there’s no need to nix the chocolate; just be conscious of the kind of chocolate you’re consuming. Now, if you’ll excuse us...a piece (or two) of SRSLY Chocolate’s 77% Lachua Guatemala bar is calling our names (and our stomachs).

You can get an array of SRSLY Chocolate products at New Leaf starting at $7.99! Learn more at srslychocolate.com.


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