Chocolate is undeniably one of life’s small pleasures, and we have all heard about the possible health benefits of chocolate in the form of antioxidant flavonoids, but does this mean we should consume this delectable treat to our hearts’ content? Before you dig in, consider these important points:
- Flavonoids: Healthy flavonoids may not be present in all chocolate types. Dark chocolate does contain the healthful flavonoids similar to those found in tea, red wine, fruits, and vegetables, while milk chocolate may not. White chocolate actually isn’t even considered chocolate because of its lack of nonfat cacao solids, and therefore flavonoids. In 2002, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) established a standard of identity for white chocolate which provided the use of the term ‘white chocolate’ as the common name of products made from cacao fat (i.e., cocoa butter), milk solids, nutritive carbohydrate sweeteners, but containing no nonfat cacao solids.
- Calories: Dark chocolate, although it contains healthy antioxidants, does not appear to be lower in calories than its milk chocolate counterpart. In fact, most chocolate chip types, chocolate bars, and chocolate candies we compared in the table above are between 140 to 155 kcals per ounce. Because most chocolate candy has high levels of saturated fat and sugar, it is best to enjoy these treats in moderation.
- Liquors and powders: Cocoa liquor, while it sounds like an alcoholic beverage, is actually pure liquid chocolate, which is made up of a combination of cocoa butter and cacao solids. Cacao solids, commonly known as cocoa powder, are the low-fat components of chocolate, while cocoa butter is the fatty component. This explains why cocoa powder has significantly lower calories than cocoa butter or chocolate liquor.
So, whether you are entertaining guests with a milk chocolate fondue, finishing a novel while sipping your white hot chocolate beverage, or simply savouring a mouthful of your favorite dark chocolate square, it is important to enjoy this delectable ingredient as part of a healthy diet and in moderation.