Wondering which type of chocolate is healthiest or least healthy? Let’s take a closer look at what’s inside your favorite candy to find out the answer.
You picked up your favorite bar of chocolate, assuming that chocolates are really healthy but are all chocolates the same when it comes to health benefits? Certainly not. Some types of chocolates are definitely healthy, but others, not so much. Learn more about which type of chocolate is healthiest or least healthy.
Plain dark chocolate provides the most incredible health benefits, and as a rule, the darker and more bitter it is, the better that chocolate is for your health. On the other hand, white chocolate makes the least healthy chocolate because it is all about cocoa butter and sugar.
Americans consume 2.8 billion pounds of chocolate each year, which makes roughly around 12 pounds of chocolate per person every year. And while it was once considered junk food which is a source of empty calories, recent studies suggest otherwise. Consumption of chocolate can improve your heart health, improve blood flow and lower your blood pressure. But which type of chocolate gives you all these benefits. Let's delve into different types of chocolates so you can find out which type of chocolate is the healthiest or least healthy.
Which type of chocolate is healthiest or least healthy is a question that most people are curious about. As nutritionists having worked with different types of foods and their health implications, we have compiled the information about the healthiest and least healthy types of chocolates so you can get the most authentic information. So, let’s get started.
The Healthiest Type of Chocolate
What is Dark Chocolate Made Of?
The process of making dark chocolate starts with the cacao tree that bears the cocoa fruit, which is also known as the pod. Each pod on the cacao trees contains around 30-50 seeds which are known as cacao or cocoa beans. When the pod is ripe, it is opened, and its seeds are removed. The seeds are then fermented, dried, and roasted. Roasting the beans separates the bean shells and enhances the flavor of the nibs. The nibs are then ground into a fine mass, which is known as cocoa liquor. When cocoa liquor is placed under high pressure, it separates into two products; cocoa powder and cocoa butter.
Making dark chocolate requires the use of cocoa liquor and cocoa powder along with sugar and doesn’t require the use of cocoa butter which is the natural fat content that is present in the cocoa beans.
Dark chocolate is generally considered to be the healthiest type of chocolate. In its purest form, dark chocolate contains the most cocoa content. To be categorized as dark chocolate, it should contain at least 35% cocoa, and the remaining contents can include cocoa butter (the natural fat of the cocoa bean), sweetener, emulsifier (what holds ingredients together), and flavoring. Milk is also added to chocolate to give it a soft texture.
Why is Dark Chocolate the Healthiest Type of Chocolate?
As mentioned earlier, dark chocolate contains the highest cocoa content, which contains a high amount of antioxidants known as flavonoids.
Flavonoids provide several health benefits, including improved cardiac health, lower blood pressure, and reduced risk of blood clots. Moreover, flavonoids can also protect your body cells against oxidative stress, which is a leading cause of several health conditions, including cancer, dementia, and Alzheimer's disease. Furthermore, flavonoids can also aid in reducing the absorption of fat and facilitate calorie expenditure which can also aid in weight loss.
Apart from the valuable antioxidants, dark chocolate is also rich in minerals, including iron, zinc, and magnesium, which makes it one of the healthiest types of chocolates that you can consume.
As a rule, the darker and more bitter the chocolate is (the higher the cocoa content), the healthier it will be. But you need to keep a check on the sugar content of the chocolate so you can get the maximum benefit out of it.
The Least Healthy Type of Chocolate
White chocolate makes the least healthy type of chocolate because it does not contain any cocoa solids. Instead, it is made from cocoa butter, sugar, and flavors.
How White Chocolate is Made?
White chocolate is a derivative of chocolate. It is derived from the cocoa beans, but it primarily uses the cocoa bean's fat content, which is mixed with sugar and flavors to give it a smooth, creamy texture. So white chocolate isn’t actually chocolate because it doesn't contain any cocoa solids. Instead, it is just cocoa butter which is mixed with sugar, often with vanilla for added flavoring.
What Classifies as White Chocolate?
In order to be classified as white chocolate, the white chocolate bar needs to have at least 20% (by weight) or more cocoa butter. Moreover, it should have at least 3.5% (by weight) of milk fat and at least 14% of total milk solids. Furthermore, your bar of white chocolate should have no more than 55% of its content as a carbohydrate sweetener.
White chocolate also contains additional flavoring, including vanilla and lecithin.
Note that cocoa butter is the natural fat content that comes from the cocoa seed and is not the pure cocoa that is found in dark chocolate. Note that it means that your favorite bar of white chocolate is deprived of antioxidants and minerals and is loaded with fat and sugar. Now, what do you think about the impact of the consumption of white chocolate on your health?
Let’s take a glimpse of it.
Health Implications of Consuming White Chocolate
Higher Calories and High-Fat Content
A 3-ounce bar of white chocolate contains almost 500 calories, and if you look at its composition, it contains around 27 grams of fat from the cocoa butter. Know that almost 60% of the fat content present in white chocolate comes from saturated fats, which are a dangerous type of fat that can lead to increased blood cholesterol levels, high triglycerides, and unhealthy weight gain.
Regular consumption of saturated fat can significantly increase your risk of heart diseases, Type 2 diabetes, and other serious health concerns.
High Sugar Content
While a bar of white chocolate is rich in unhealthy fats, it also contains high sugar content. A 3-ounce bar of white chocolate. Almost 200 grams of white chocolate contains over 50 grams of sugar which make up 25% of its weight. A normal healthy woman should keep their sugar intake to 24 grams or less per day, whereas men shouldn’t consume more than 36 grams of sugar a day.
If you consume white chocolate regularly, you are consuming unhealthy amounts of sugar regularly, which can lead to several health implications, including unhealthy weight gain, increased risk of Type 2 diabetes, and tooth decay. Consumption of too much sugar can also significantly increase your risk of developing cardiac problems. Moreover, excessive sugar consumption leaves less room in your diet for nutrient-rich foods such as whole grains, vegetables, and fruits.
White chocolate is considered the least healthy type of chocolate as it is rich in fat and sugar, and unlike dark chocolate, it doesn't contain any antioxidants. The higher fat and sugar content present in white sugar can have several negative health implications, including increased risk of cardiac problems, Type 2 diabetes, and unhealthy weight gain.
About THE AUTHOR
Lori has been a Culinary Arts instructor for twenty years. She has taught in the public school setting, at the collegiate level and through adult continuing education as well as running several cooking and baking camps for children. She has participated in several cooking, cake & chocolate contests and has been well recognized. She has raised thousands of dollars for charities using the byline “Saving the World one Cupcake at a Time”. Additionally, she has had several articles regarding food published in various magazines.Read More About Lori Gilmore