What Is the Healthiest Chocolate?

Chocolate is indeed a delicious sweet treat that is loved by many people. It is one of the best candy treats out there. However, most chocolate treats you can buy today contain lots of saturated fats, sugar, and other ingredients which are not healthy. 

If you are a chocolate lover but want to eat healthy, no worries because there’s a healthy kind of chocolate you can eat guilt-free: dark chocolate. But you need to keep in mind that all types of chocolate, good for you or not, still contain sugar and saturated fats, which are not healthy when eaten in large amounts. 

Dark chocolate is the healthiest among different chocolates because it is the lowest in sugar. It also supplies beneficial antioxidants that are present in much smaller doses of milk and white chocolate. There are 164 calories, 10.86 grams of fat in an ounce of dark chocolate, and 6.25 grams of these are saturated. It also contains 10.4 grams of added sugar. In comparison, an ounce of milk chocolate contains almost 17 grams of added sugar. 

Dark Chocolate

Dark chocolate is made by adding fat and sugar to cocoa, but it is different from milk chocolate because it contains little to no milk solids. It is also called bittersweet and semisweet chocolate. Both differ in sugar content, but they can be used interchangeably in cooking and baking. You might wonder how you’ll be able to know if a bar of chocolate is dark or not. To determine this, try to select one with a 70 percent or higher total cocoa content. 

Dark chocolate is popular for its powerful antioxidant activity. Compared to many high-antioxidant fruits such as acai berries and blueberries, it has been shown that dark chocolate has a greater antioxidant effect. Also, based on studies, eating dark chocolate has been linked with a reduced risk of heart disease as well as improved brain function. 

Nutrients in Dark Chocolate 

Chocolate.-Dark-bitter-chocolate-chunks

What makes dark chocolate the healthiest chocolate is the healthy nutrients that have a powerful antioxidant effect on our bodies. According to the food data by the United States Department of Agriculture, consuming a bar of dark chocolate (approximately 100 grams) can provide you with the following: 

Calories  604
Protein  7.87 grams 
Fat  43.06 grams 
Carbohydrates  46.36 grams 
Dietary fiber  11 grams 
Sugar  24.23 grams 
Iron  12.02 milligrams 
Magnesium  230 milligrams 

Dark Chocolate Contents You Need to Keep an Eye Out For

When buying dark chocolates, it is best to choose those made with as few ingredients as possible. The best dark chocolates are made with chocolate liquor or cocoa listed as the first ingredient. Several forms of cocoa may be on the list, like cocoa powder, cocoa nibs, and cocoa butter, all of which are acceptable dark chocolate ingredients. 

There are also other ingredients added to dark chocolate to improve its flavor, appearance, and shelf life. Some of these ingredients are safe, while some can harm the quality of the chocolate. Here are some of the ingredients you need to check when buying dark chocolates.

  • Sugar

Sugar is often added to balance dark chocolate’s bitter taste. It is an important component of dark chocolate; however, other brands go overboard in adding this ingredient. It’s difficult to find dark chocolate that does not contain sugar. When buying one, choose a brand that does not have sugar listed first on the ingredients list. Or choose one that lists sugar last. Also, keep in mind that the higher the cocoa percentage, the lower the sugar content is. 

  • Lecithin

Lecithin is sometimes added to dark chocolates as well as an emulsifier. It can keep the cocoa and cocoa butter from separating, and it can also help in blending flavors. Lecithin is derived commonly from soybeans, and it is usually listed as soy lecithin on the label. It is used in such small amounts in chocolate, and it does not affect health or quality. But when you are selecting a dark chocolate brand, remember that lecithin is not necessary to make chocolate. 

  • Milk

High-quality dark chocolates should not contain any milk. But there’s an exception which is milk fat. Milk fat is butter that has had its moisture and non-fat solids removed. It is sometimes added to dark chocolate to add flavor and soften it. But it is also not required in making dark chocolate. 

  • Flavorings

Dark chocolates are often flavored with extracts, oils, and spices to improve their taste. The most common flavoring used in dark chocolates is vanilla. On labels, it’s kind of difficult to differentiate which are natural and artificial. Therefore, if you want to buy dark flavored chocolates, choose those which are organic to make sure the flavors used are not artificial. 

  • Trans-Fat

If you see dark chocolate that contains trans-fat, do not buy it. It’s because the consumption of trans fat is a significant risk factor for heart disease. Today, adding trans-fat to chocolates has become less common; however, manufacturers sometimes still add it to improve consistency and shelf life. 

Check its ingredients list to ensure that the dark chocolate you are buying does not contain trans-fat. If you see hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oil, it means that it contains trans-fat. 

Things to Consider When Buying Dark Chocolates

Broken-bar-of-dark-chocolate

When buying dark chocolates, here are some things you need to consider to be able to choose the best ones. 

  • Cocoa Content 

Ensure that the dark chocolate you are purchasing has more than 70% cocoa in it. 

  • Cocoa is the First Ingredient 

Also, ensure that cocoa or any form of cocoa used in making dark chocolate is on the top of the ingredient list. 

  • Avoid Unnecessary Ingredients 

Some dark chocolate brands might mix in trans-fat or artificial flavorings to enhance the product’s flavor. However, this is simply a deviation from authentic dark chocolate. Also, look out for other unnecessary items, such as sugar, in the brand of dark chocolate you are buying. 

  • Do Not Buy Alkalized or Dutched Dark Chocolate

The process of treating chocolate with alkali or alkalization is called Dutching. It is used to change the color of the chocolate and decrease its bitterness. However, according to several studies, this method can significantly reduce the number of antioxidants in chocolate. Therefore, you need to avoid chocolate that has been Dutched. To do this, check the ingredients list for something like “cocoa processed with alkali.”

  • Go for Fair-Trade and Organic Chocolate

When buying dark chocolates, choose those made from fair-trade and organic cacao beans as much as possible. It’s because growing and harvesting cacao is a difficult process. When you buy fair-trade dark chocolate, you can ensure that the cacao bean farmer earns a fair price for the product. It’s also great to choose organic dark chocolate because it can reduce exposure to artificial chemicals and pesticides sprayed on the beans. 

The Best Dark Chocolate Brands

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Here are some of the best dark chocolate brands you might want to try:

Product
Visual
Where to Buy
Equal Exchange
Vivani
Alter Eco
Pascha Chocolate
Hu Dark Chocolate
Taza Chocolate


1. Equal Exchange


The dark chocolates of Equal Exchange are all fair-trade and organic. All of them are made with high-quality ingredients as well. They have an Extreme Dark chocolate bar made of only four ingredients, contains only 4 grams of sugar, and has 88 percent cocoa.



2. Vivani


This is a German chocolatier which ingredients come from Ceres, and all of them are 100 percent organic. Vivani’s dark chocolates are processed without alkali and do not contain soy lecithin.



3. Alter Eco


The dark chocolates of Alter Eco are also fair-trade and organic. They have many types of dark chocolate bars that you can choose from. One of the best you can get from them is their Super Blackout bar which is made of 90% cocoa and contains only 3 grams of sugar per serving. This dark chocolate is made of only four ingredients: cacao beans, cocoa butter, raw cane sugar, and vanilla beans.



4. Pascha Chocolate


The dark chocolates of Pascha are made in an allergen-free facility. It means that their products are free from food allergens like dairy, soy, and wheat. They have different kinds of dark chocolates that have up to 85% cocoa. They use only the essential ingredients in making them, such as cocoa, sugar, vanilla, and some fruit. 



5. Hu Dark Chocolate


Hu dark chocolate is one of the best vegan dark chocolates out there. It has no dairy or soy lecithin added to it. That’s why Hu Dark Chocolate is the healthiest option you can get. This brand was conceptualized by co-founders Jordan Brown, Jason Karp, and Jessica Karp. The combined efforts of the three visionaries regarding wellness readings and self-experimentation in healthy controlled eating led to this company. 

The founders wanted to introduce a change to the current junk food culture, so they came up with a healthy bar of dark chocolate. This brand’s human-centric policy is the main reason for its success in this industry. 



6. Taza Chocolate


Taza chocolate is made from authentic stone-ground chocolate. The brand is proud to make dark chocolate by grinding organic cacao beans into unrefined chocolate. Taza Chocolate uses minimal processing to get its consumers the most delicious dark chocolate that is proud of its bold flavor.



Comparison Table

  Equal ExchangeVivaniAlter EcoPascha ChocolateHu Dark Chocolate
Sugar (grams)47348
Cocoa (%)8892908570
Total Carb (grams)1213.110N/A13
 
  Taza Chocolate
Sugar (grams)2
Cocoa (%)95
Total Carb (grams)14
 

These are some of the best dark chocolate brands you can find in the market today. Just keep in mind that when choosing a bar of dark chocolate, it should be high in cocoa, no unnecessary ingredients are present, and make sure that it’s fair-trade and organic. This way, you will enjoy eating dark chocolates that are rich in antioxidants guilt-free.