We completely lost it.
Lost in sponsored research and lobbying propaganda, consumers don’t even know what to consume anymore. Every day we are fed a new belief. Sugar is good, wait now is bad, but what kind? Fat is ok, but in moderation, or maybe indulge? Chocolate prevents heart-attack, well actually cacao, perhaps in pills?
This continuous switch of preferences has a dramatic effect on the food we consume.
Research is sponsored by big corporations that want to sell their products. Doctors take commissions like sales agents, while big pharma creates new diseases every day and big media follows the agenda. In the meantime, striving for good health is making us sicker than ever.
Why is it so?
Because we lost it. We lost the ability to listen to our body. In a 24/7 stressed life, we don’t have time to stop and recognize what food makes us feel vibrant and energetic and which one makes us sluggish and lethargic. So we’d rather believe a big screen, a charismatic personality, a biased research or the cousin of a friend of a friend.
Depending on the latest trends, the market has to adapt to satisfy the pressing demand. And in 2017, chocolate is the saddest example of all.
Today, the biggest obsession of consumers is SUGAR-FREE chocolate.
There are different types of consumers fueling this popular demand. There are those who believe sugar to be like poison for the human body. Others want to lose weight and join the low-sugar diet bandwagon. Some others have serious health conditions like diabetes.
Between valid and questionable reasons, consumers have risen their voices during these past years. They want to enjoy their favorite food without the sugar.
But there is something that these consumers don’t realize: sugar-free chocolate is a BIG challenge. It’s not about changing one item in a 20-ingredient recipe. They ask to cut out one of the TWO ingredients of chocolate, while still expecting a pleasant flavor and texture.
Chocolate in its most handcrafted form is in fact made of two ingredients: cacao and sugar. Cacao is everything contained inside the cocoa beans (cocoa butter included). Sugar is added to make the bitterness of chocolate more bearable and to enhance its flavor. Every other ingredient is an addition, either to create a particular taste or to cut costs with cheaper alternatives.
How is the market facing the challenge?
Among cheap industrial assortments, consumers can now find some chocolate bars labeled Sugar-Free. The products with such an encouraging claim seem to be the best alternatives, but wait to rejoice. The price to pay for sugar-free chocolate is actually a bunch of chemicals.
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In chocolate bars labeled Sugar-Free, regular sugar is replaced by artificially produced sweeteners. The most popular (because also the cheapest) is maltilol, that contains 90 percent of the sweetness of sugar and has 2.1 calories per gram.
Other substances often used in industrial sugar-free chocolate are polyglycitol, xylitol, inulin and sorbitol. Made in laboratories, these sugar replacements are known for their unpleasant side effects on the human body. Abdominal pain, gastrointestinal discomfort and diarrhea to name a few.
The premise behind sugar-free choices is to do the body good. But ironically enough, consumers are trading a small amount of sugar for dangerous substances.
Health-conscious consumers should also be aware that sugar-free chocolate has high amount of Total Fats. This makes sense since big manufacturers are bulking up their alternative products with all kinds of questionable oils to replace the sugar.
This shouldn’t come as a surprise though. Other sugar-free products on the market are high in fat, and fat-free products are high in sugar. What would you put in it otherwise? If something goes out, something else has to go in.
To satisfy sugar-free demand, big chocolate manufacturers are creating something that has NOTHING to do with chocolate.
If these weren’t enough reasons to stay away from sugar-free chocolate, here is another one: mediocre taste. Everybody’s palate is different and entitled to its opinion. However, you don’t see many consumers raving about the deliciousness of sugar-free chocolate. And “tolerating a flavor” is way different than enjoying it.
What to do then to avoid chemicals, extra-fat and bad taste?
Many consumers prefer a more natural and satisfying option: REAL CHOCOLATE with no added sugar.
Thanks to a growing demand for quality products, craft chocolate is increasingly available on the market.
This kind of chocolate is minimally processed from the cacao beans by expert makers. Production is on a small scale and distribution is limited to specialty stores. This is chocolate how it should be: composed of only cacao and sugar, and none of the nasty stuff used by big manufacturers.
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To satisfy sugar-free demand, craft chocolate makers have created great options. But they don’t play on the chemical ground. Their chocolate is healthy and delicious without compromises.
Every craft chocolate company is now releasing 100% cacao bars. This is chocolate that contains only cacao and no sugar (other than the tiny amount naturally contained in cacao). But craft makers are doing it the smart way.
To give these bars a smooth texture, makers are adding extra cocoa butter (the natural fat found in the cocoa beans). In this way, chocolate becomes more pleasant to the palate, and is not as dry. Most of them are also adding cocoa nibs (pieces of roasted cocoa beans) to give the bar a nice crunchiness.
The added cocoa butter and cocoa nibs, combined with the fine flavor of the chocolate, are enough to make consumers forget about the lack of sugar. Finally, they can enjoy a real treat while avoiding sugar, chemicals and extra-fats. Some examples are the super creamy 100% cacao bar by Chocolat Bonnat and a very crunchy 100% cacao with cocoa nibs by Akesson’s.
In an era where big corporations are turning food into scientific experiments, going back to small scale production and recognizable ingredients is our best chance to win our health back.
Do YOU consume sugar-free chocolate?
I did NOT get paid and did NOT receive any kind of favor for writing this article. These are my honest opinions at your service.