Walk Talk Nutrition: chocolate benefits

There's no standard definition for "dark" chocolate bunnies

There’s no standard definition for “dark” chocolate bunnies

We keep hearing that chocolate is healthy, but why?  And what kind of chocolate?

Just in time for chocolate bunny season, the Walk Talk Nutrition RD team, Donna and Kathy, have some answers.

Dark chocolate nutrition

The more chocolate liquor content, the higher percent chocolate and the more nutrients.  1 oz of dark chocolate (70%) has roughly:

  • 160 calories
  • 3 gram of protein
  • 4 grams of fiber
  • significant iron, trace minerals like magnesium and copper, as well as polyphenols

Chocolate standards

  1. Milk chocolate: at least 15% chocolate liquor* by weight.
  2. Semi Sweet chocolate: at least 35% chocolate liquor by weight (in Europe the minimum is 46%)
  3. Dark Chocolate: There is NO STANDARD.  This is important to understand, because a label that claims “dark chocolate” means nothing unless a percent chocolate liquor content is also stated, such as 60%.  The polyphenols and nutrients come from the cacao bean, not from added sugar or milk, so dark chocolate is the best choice to take advantage of health benefits.

The “Dark Chocolate” Health Halo Easter bunny

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERACheck out this “Solid Dark Chocolate” Easter bunny.  It’s certain to appeal to consumers who want to buy something healthy.  But, as you know, there is no official standard for “dark” chocolate.  The ingredients for this dark chocolate: sugar, chocolate, cocoa butter, milk fat, soy lecithin and vanillin.  In other words, the first ingredient is sugar.  And there is no percentage for the chocolate content anywhere.  One way to get a rough idea is to do some math.   It turns out an ounce of this chocolate bunny only has 1/3 of the fiber you’d expect from 70% chocolate content.  So this dark chocolate bunny isn’t all that dark.

Our bottom line: when buying dark chocolate, look for a percentage listed right on the label, preferably higher than 50%.  You don’t need to eat very much to get health benefits.  100 calories worth (about 2/3 ounce) will do. 

*FDA definition of chocolate liquor:

Chocolate liquor is the solid or semiplastic food prepared by finely grinding cacao nibs. The fat content of the food may be adjusted by adding one or more of the optional ingredients specified in paragraph (b)(1) of this section to the cacao nibs. Chocolate liquor contains not less than 50 percent nor more than 60 percent by weight of cacao fat

Copyright: All content © 2010-2018 Nutrition Strategy Advisors LLC. Photographs © Donna P Feldman, unless otherwise attributed. Reproduction or use without permission is prohibited.