We have all probably thought about it at least once before. Does choosing dark chocolate give us brownie points for our health? We stand at the chocolate aisle divided between milk, or its darker bitter counterpart. Taste could be your number one criteria for choosing a block or bar, or you might have a go-to favourite. But then our train of thought might wonder to health.
Check Up on Cocoa
Cocoa (in dark chocolate) is rich in antioxidants. “Antioxidant” means exactly that – anti (against) things being oxidised – which, in the case of your food, means the antioxidants prevent it from going rancid or “off”.
Of these antioxidants, flavonols and polyphenols are found in cocoa. They are also found in black and green teas and red wine (talk about listing a rainbow!). Research has found links between these antioxidants in cocoa and improved mood and cognitive function. Flavonols are also known for their heart and circulation-friendly health benefits.
- Anti-blood-clotting effects to reduce your risks of clotted arteries
- Maintains your blood vessels and keeps them elastic for good blood flow and circulation
- Helps you manage your blood pressure and cholesterol
Dark chocolate vs Milk chocolate
Both dark and milk chocolate contain cocoa (from the cocoa bean). If you flip the packet of your choc block, you’ll find one or more of cocoa mass, cocoa butter and cocoa powder on the list. For milk chocolate, true to its name, it will also contain milk, milk solids, milk powder or milk fat.
But dark chocolate tastes more bitter, so it should be healthier than milk chocolate right? Block for block, dark chocolate generally do contain less sugar than milk chocolate varieties. Note – this depends on the brand though.
|Per 100g||Excellence 85%||Excellence 70%||Old Gold 70%||Old Gold Dark Choc Original||Excellence Extra Creamy Milk||Cadbury Milk Choc|
|Fat – total||46.0g||41.0g||41.6g||30.2g||37.0g||29.9g|
|Ingredients||Cocoa mass, fat reduced cocoa powder, cocoa butter, demerara sugar, vanilla.||Cocoa mass, sugar, cocoa butter, vanilla.||Cocoa Mass, Sugar, Cocoa Butter, Cocoa Powder, Flavour, Milk Solids.||Sugar, Cocoa Mass, Cocoa Butter, Milk Solids, Emulsifiers (Soy Lecithin, 476), Flavour.||Sugar, cocoa butter, whole milk powder, cocoa mass, milk fat, lactose, skim milk powder, barley malt extract, emulsifier (soy lecithin), flavouring.||Full Cream Milk, Sugar, Cocoa Butter, Cocoa Mass, Milk Solids, Emulsifiers (Soy Lecithin, 476), Flavours.|
In terms of fat, dark and milk chocolate are actually similar. This is because dark chocolate has a higher percentage of cocoa (be it cocoa butter, cocoa mass) while milk chocolate has a higher percentage of milk (milk solids, milk fat), both of which contribute to the overall fat content of the chocolate.
So, which one?
When enjoyed in moderate amounts, chocolate may have benefits on our mood as well as physical health. That is, as long as the amounts we eat don’t end up overdoing our daily fat and added sugar limits. When faced with the glories of positive effects, it is important to remember that commercial chocolate products contain much more than simply cocoa – there’s the sugars, milk fats and added flavours.
At the end of the day – dark or milk, plain or with nuts or fruits or cookie dough bits – the principle of enjoying your chocolate in moderation remains the same.
If you find stopping at one or two squares is challenging at this stage, aim to buy smaller bars or fun-sized portions to become familiar with the sizing.
Choose good quality chocolate, serve up your squares on your favourite plate (and pack the rest away); sit down without distractions, take in the aroma and then the taste and texture of the pieces as you focus on experiencing the moment with your beloved chocolate. If you would rather fall in chocolate than love, make the most of every moment with it!
Looking for a delicious way to enjoy your chocolate moments? Try my Almond and Dark Chocolate Slices. They’re chocolatey, fudgy and moreish morsels of yum for a not-too-sweet decadent dessert.