In this post, I will describe six ways to tell if your chocolate is Keto [friendly] chocolate. Ketogenic or Keto diets are becoming increasingly popular, and for good reason. The potential health benefits include weight loss, diabetes reversal, normalized blood pressure, and a reduction in IBS symptoms just to name the most common.  But many people, including me, are concerned about having to give up our favorite health food—chocolate—to satisfy the requirements of this diet. So, how can you tell if your chocolate is Keto-friendly?
I am not going to review the many fantastic health benefits of dark chocolate. Roy covered those in his post, “What You Need To Know About The Health Benefits of Dark Chocolate for Men, Especially Husbands.” Instead, let’s begin by looking at what the requirements of a Ketogenic diet are.
Low-carb and Ketogenic
A low-carb diet means just that. You reduce or eliminate carbs found in sugary foods, pastas, and breads. You should also avoid rice, beans, and potatoes. You then replace these with real foods containing protein and healthy fats, and vegetables. No counting calories or weighing your food, just eat real food. Reducing carbs and increasing fats is also known as the low-carb, high-fat diet (LCHF), or the keto diet.  A strict keto diet looks like this:
- 60 to 75 percent of your calories from fat
- 15 to 30 percent of your calories from protein
- 5 to 10 percent of your calories from carbs.
Everyone has slightly different needs, but this translates to between 20 and 50 grams of carbs every day. And when your body runs out of carbohydrate-glucose, it will start producing fat-based ketones. This usually takes two to seven days if the keto diet is religiously followed.  The remarkable health benefits of the keto diet have been known and studied for decades. 
At first, a low-carb diet was difficult for me to embrace. I had been taught that fat was bad, and carbs were good if I ate plenty of protein. And I still eat more protein than I need. I am a baby boomer, so I tend to not take anything at its initial face value. I’ve lived through milk being healthy and then unhealthy and then healthy again. I’m not sure if milk is healthy or not this week. Anyway, eggs were healthy, eggs were very unhealthy; eggs were very healthy again. I just saw on NBC’s Nightly News yesterday, March 15, 2018, that eggs are not as healthy as they were last year. I’ll keep eating them, and maybe they will be healthy again next year. Many of you know what I’m talking about. So, when I first read that fat is healthy, my initial reaction was, “Maybe this year, but what about next year?” Well I’ve read a lot about “healthy fat” since then, and now I’m a convert, in principle anyway. I’ve not yet developed the discipline to adhere 100% to any eating plan, and I don’t want to give up my healthy dark chocolate. But maybe I don’t need to. Let’s look at what is ketosis.
When you cut carbohydrates from your diet, your blood sugar (glucose) begins to run low. Your body needs an alternative fuel supply, so it begins to make ketones. These ketones are produced by your liver from your body’s fat supply. These ketones serve to fuel your body and brain even more efficiently than glucose. The obvious results are weight loss, less hunger, and more energy. The less obvious results may be less seizures, diabetes reversal, normalized blood pressure, healthier cholesterol, better mental health, and many other potential benefits. Of course, like everything that seems to good to be true, there are some potential side effects. These include headaches, leg cramps, constipation, and bad breath. Some of these symptoms may be the result of dehydration.  Carbs cause you to retain water, so when you cut carbs you need to make up for some of that loss of water.
1st Indicator: Organic and ethically sourced
As Roy pointed out in his post, “3 Compelling Reasons to Choose Organic Chocolate,” organic chocolates are free or mostly free of synthetic additives like pesticides, chemical fertilizers, and dyes, and must not be processed using industrial solvents, irradiation, or genetic engineering. Ethically sourced chocolates and coffees is just another layer of assurance that the chocolate ingredients have not been exposed to dangerous pesticides or other chemicals. In my opinion, these assurances are prerequisite to any healthy diet.
2nd Indicator: Darkest and rawest chocolate that you can find and tolerate
So, the first indicator of a keto-friendly chocolate is very low carbohydrates. Typically, the darker and rawer the chocolate, the lower the carbohydrate content. Look for chocolate with 85%-100% raw cocao with no sugar. Dr Jockers from DrKockers.com: Supercharge Your Health, advocates eating chocolate as well as avocados, coconut products, herbs, spices, and other healthy foods to supplement a ketogenic diet. These foods either help mitigate the potential side effects of a keto diet, or they enhance the other health benefits associated with a keto diet. 
3rd Indicator: Raw unroasted cocao (not cocoa)
This is not a spelling lesson. All chocolate is not created equal. You want to see raw unroasted cocao (not cocoa) in the ingredients listed on the label. This indicates that the chocolate is very near its unprocessed form. 
4th Indicator: Ratio of Fat to combined protein and carbs greater than 1.1:1
This seems obvious that fat content should be greater than the protein and carb content combined. Remember, a keto diet resolves to increase health fat while reducing carbs and maintaining a balance of protein. 
5th Indicator: Low or no sugar
Processed sugar is a no-no in a ketogenic diet. If you cannot find or tolerate chocolate with no sugar, try for chocolate with low levels of natural ketogenic sweeteners. 
6th Indicator: No soy lecithin
The following paragraph is taken directly from the post,
Lecithin’ is a generic term applied to any yellowish, fatty substance that naturally occurs in plant and animal tissues – “a mixture of phospholipids and oil.” It’s chemically extracted from inexpensive sources like canola, eggs, milk, soy, and sunflowers and added to commercially made foods so the ingredients don’t “separate out” as well as give a “creaminess” to the product.
Lecithin has been used as treatment for many different ailments, and chances are you have unknowingly consumed it in many of the foods you have eaten. Lecithin id extracted using a chemical solvent (usually Hexane), and some are concerned about the chemical residue left on the lecithin. The FDA does not regulate the amount of hexane residue left in commercial foods after-the-fact.  But that does not mean that it is completely safe.
Phytoestrogens – Soy lecithin is commonly used in chocolate to keep it from separating. Soy contains phytoestrogens, a substance that can confuse normal hormonal processes. But the trace amounts found in most foods is not considered dangerous for most healthy people.
GMOs – Because most of the soy grown in the US has been genetically modified, there is some concern about the effects of soy on our DNA. But soy lecithin contains little or no soy, so there may be little danger of this.
Toxins – As mentioned above, the FDA does not regulate the hexane residue, so there is the possibility that some residue is present.
A Difficult Tip
Here comes the hard part. Keep in mind that even if the label of your favorite chocolate says serving size is ½ bar or 1 oz., you do not have to eat the entire serving size in one serving or even in one day’s servings. Healthy and nutritious chocolate is more satisfying than its sugary alternatives, and it should be savored for its taste and its health benefits. If you are committed to a keto diet or similar, then some restraint in your chocolate consumption may be required. Believe me when I tell you that I know this is not easy. But good health habits take discipline and practice. I’m still working on both.
It is difficult—but not impossible–to find chocolates that satisfy all the requirements above, and it is particularly difficult to find organic, ethically sourced chocolates that satisfy these requirements. But an awareness of what to look for can at the least help us to make more informed decisions about what chocolates we purchase.
If you know of any organic, ethically sourced chocolate that satisfy all or most of the above requirements, please let us know the name in our comments section.
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- Eenfeldt, Andreas. “Health Benefits and side Effects.” Diet Doctor. 31 January 2019. < https://www.dietdoctor.com/health>
- Eenfeldt, Andreas. “A ketogenic diet for beginners.” Diet Doctor. 2 March 2019. < https://www.dietdoctor.com/low-carb/keto>
- Miller, Korin, “What Is The Keto Diet, Exactly?” Women’s Health. 14 December 2018. <https://www.womenshealthmag.com/weight-loss/a19434332/what-is-the-keto-diet/>
- Not Listed. “Learn About Ketosis.” Charlie Foundation for Ketogenic Therapies. 2019. <https://charliefoundation.org/learn-about-ketosis/>
- Jockers, David. “6 Ways to Use Chocolate on a Ketogenic Diet.” DrJockers.com: Supercharge Your Health. 2019. <https://drjockers.com/6-ways-use-chocolate-ketogenic-diet/>
- “Lecithin – what is it and is it bad for me?” lilsipper: Healthy Recipes Designed For Digestive Health. 6 August 2017. < http://www.lilsipper.com/lecithin-what-is-it-and-is-it-bad-for-me/>
- Bowen, Lauren. “What is Lecithin? And is it Good or Bad for Me?” Care2. 20 October 2016. <https://www.care2.com/greenliving/what-is-lecithin-and-is-it-good-or-bad-for-me.html>
- Henry, Alan. “What Does Organic Really Mean, and Is It Worth My Money?” Ask Lifehacker. 10 September 2012. <https://lifehacker.com/what-does-organic-really-mean-and-is-it-worth-my-money-5941881>