The cacao bean is responsible for most of the health benefits associated with chocolate. Cacao, which is the main ingredient in milk and dark chocolates, contains a variety of nutrients, including iron, magnesium, and zinc. Cacao beans contain high levels of antioxidants that have been shown to reduce our risk of developing certain chronic oxidative stress-related diseases.
Chocolate’s flavor and nutrition are affected by the number of cacao beans used. The more cacao beans, the bitterer the chocolate will taste. Both dark and milk chocolate have different amounts of cacao. Milk chocolate is made with milk or cream, along with cacao beans and other ingredients. Some milk chocolates may only contain 10% cacao while others can have as much as 40%. Dark chocolate usually contains at least 55% cacao. You may have also seen dark chocolate bars that contained higher percentages like 70%, 80%, or 90%.
Although the cacao content in chocolate is an important metric, it does not tell the entire nutritional story. Compare milk chocolate with dark chocolate, as shown in the bars below. Milk chocolate has more sugar. Dark chocolate does not necessarily have more calories, saturated fat, or minerals like potassium. Because milk is added to milk chocolate, it will likely have more calcium. Cacao has more phenolic antioxidants than other foods. Dark chocolate contains significantly greater levels of flavanols (richer in antioxidant activity).
Theo Chocolate Bars
70% Theo Dark Chocolate Bar
- Ingredients: Cocoa Beans, Cane Sugar, Cocoa Butter, Sea Salt.
- Serving size: 28g (1/3 bar).
- Data on nutrition (DV is daily value in %): Saturated fats: 6 grams (30%DV), Total sugars 9 grams, Protein 2 grams, Calcium 15mg (2%) and 15mg respectively. Iron: 1mg (6%DV), Potassium 153mg (4%)
- Ingredients: Cane Sugar; Cocoa Butter; Cocoa Beans; Whole Milk Powder
- Serving size: 28g (1/3 bar).
- Nutrition data (DV is daily value in %): Saturated Fat: 7g (35% DV), Total Sugars: 12g, Protein: 2g, Calcium: 56mg (4%) Iron: 2mg (10%DV), Potassium 139mg (22%DV)
- Ingredients: Chocolate, cocoa powder, cocoa butter, demerara sugar, bourbon vanilla beans.
- Serving Size: 30g (3 pieces).
- Data on nutrition (DV is daily value in %): Saturated Fat: 8g (40% DV), Total Sugars: 4g (40% DV), Protein: 4g Protein: Calcium 25mg (2%): 15mg Iron: 3mg (15%DV), Potassium 269mg (6%)
- Ingredients: Sugar and cocoa butter, sugar, cocoa butter, skim milk (emulsifier), soya lecithin, barley malt extract, artificial flavor.
- Serving Size: 38g (5 pieces).
- Data on nutrition (DV is daily value in %): Saturated Fat: 7g (37% DV), Total Sugars: 21g, Protein: 2g, Calcium 10%, Iron 3mg (4%DV)
Dark chocolate is more nutritious than milk chocolate. However, dark chocolate can be bitter if it contains a higher amount of cacao. Dark chocolate is not recommended for those who don’t like the taste. There are many other ways to get antioxidants. I recommend milk chocolate to anyone who loves it. To reap the health benefits of antioxidants, choose milk chocolate with a higher proportion of cacao.