THE BRIGHT SIDE OF DARK CHOCOLATE

Not one day has gone by, in my health journey, without eating a piece of dark chocolate!

If like me, you dream of eating chocolate every day, without jeopardising your health goals, well, here you’ll find 6 excuses for it. You’ll also know which dark chocolate is best and how much of it you can have in a day.

So, what exactly is dark chocolate?

Dark chocolate, (sorry regular and milk chocolates don’t count!) has high amounts of iron, magnesium, and zinc. The cocoa in dark chocolate also contains antioxidants called flavonoids, which, as per many studies, provide a host of health benefits.

Dark chocolate contains 50-90% cocoa solids, cocoa butter, and cocoa sugar, whereas milk chocolate contains 10-50% cocoa solids, cocoa butter, milk solids, and sugar. While dark chocolate is rich in fiber, iron, magnesium, copper, manganese, potassium, phosphorus, zinc and selenium, milk chocolate is mostly milk flavoured with chocolate and sugar. 

In terms of calories, 100 gm of milk chocolate contains about 535 calories, while 100 gm of dark chocolate contains roughly about 600 calories. Despite the calorific value of dark chocolate being higher compare to milk chocolate, it is a preferred choice given its higher nutiritional value and much lesser sugar content.

100 gm Dark Chocolate (70-80% Cocoa)100 gm Milk Chocolate
Calorie 600     535
Carbs45.9 g53.4 g
Sugar24 g49.9 g
Dietary Fiber11.0 g6.2 g
Protein7.8 g9.0 g
Fat42.6 g34.4 g
Iron 12.0 mg1.6 mg
Magnesium

Potassium
230 mg

715 mg
90 mg

264 mg
Dark Vs Milk Chocolate_Nutritional Profile

Top 5 health benefits of dark chocolate

  1. Powerhouse of antioxidants: Dark chocolate contains biologically active organic compounds having antioxidant properties, such as flavanols and polyphenols. Antioxidants are known to prevent oxidative stress, and hence minimize cell and tissue damage, slow ageing process and lower the chances of disease such as Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, diabetes among others.
  2. Great for women: Dark chocolate contains a healthy dose of magnesium by relaxing the muscles in your uterus and helping reduce painful contractions during periods. Also, during periods there the levels of progesterone and oestrogen decrease, making you hungry and crave for food, especially that’s sweet or has high sugar content. Dark chocolate is the perfect solution for such times. Dark chocolate also aids fetal growth during pregnancy. Pregnant women can include 20-30 grams of dark chocolate every day as part of a balanced diet.
  3. Good for the heart: Indulging in dark chocolate on a regular basis may help prevent heart disease and lower the risk of stroke. The flavonoids in dark chocolate help produce nitric oxide, which relaxes blood vessels and significantly lowers blood pressure.
  4. Helps prevent diabetes: Sounds funny, right? But it’s true. Healthy amounts of dark chocolate improve how the body metabolises glucose, and reduces the risk of developing diabetes. The flavonoids in dark chocolate reduce oxidative stress and improve the body’s sensitivity to insulin.
  5. Assists in weight loss: Dark chocolate is known to be control appetite and sweet cravings. Eating a piece of dark chocolate before or after meals reduces the levels of ghrelin, a hormone that stimulates hunger.
  6. Source of good fats: Dark chocolate helps in increasing high-density lipoproteins (HDL), or “good” cholesterol. The fatty acid profile of cocoa and dark chocolate primarily contains oleic acid, stearic acid, and palmitic acid. Oleic acid is heart-friendly and helps in lowering cholesterol and reducing inflammation.

Are Cacao and Cocoa different, or same?

You’ll come across both the terms and may be confused. I was too. Well, don’t be. Cacao refers to cacao beans that have not been processed or roasted, while cocoa is made of beans have been roasted.  Use of “cacao” versus “cocoa” on chocolate products is inconsistent and varies by brand, so don’t fret or overwhelmed.

How to select the best dark chocolate for you?

Dark chocolate with higher percentages of cocoa solids typically has less sugar and higher good and more flavanols. It is best to choose dark chocolate that with at least 70% cocoa solids. The higher the cocoa the better it is. Dark chocolate with higher percentages of cocoa solids typically has less sugar, higher good fats and more flavanols.

As a rule of thumb, choose a brand that does not figure sugar or milk among top three in its list of ingredients. Some brands may add milk fat, which is nothing but butter, to give it texture and softness and that acceptable. It is best to choose dark chocolate that with at least 70 percent cocoa solids. The higher the cocoa the better it is. You can choose any brand depending on availability, budget and personal choice.

My personal favorites are Amul Bitter Dark Chocolate with 90% Cacao and Amul Dark Chocolate with 75% Cacao. These are easily available in neighbourhood grocery stores and supermarkets and can be stocked in the refrigerator for many weeks.

How much to eat?

Since dark chocolate is calorie dense food, it is very important to know how much to eat. The quantity that you can include in your diet really depends on your daily calorie allowance and macros. Typically 10-30 gms of dark chocolate per day should do no harm.

For me, a daily intake of 10-15 grams of dark chocolate fits into my daily calorie allowance. I prefer to break the bar along its ridges into small squares and store them in a box. I religiously pick one square at a time and pop it into my mouth after each meal. 15 gm of dark chocolate has about 83 calories, 1.5 g protein, 10.8 g fat, and 4 g net carbs.

Who says you shouldn’t or can’t have chocolate everyday?

Incorporating dark chocolate (with over 70% cocoa) in moderation, in your everyday diet, is a delicious, nutritious, and healthy way to enhance overall health.

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