Across the world, chocolate is a very popular decadent indulgence. Chocolates come in many different forms, yet they are not created equal. There are several different types of chocolate, from dark to white, with various health benefits.
I was able to visit a chocolate factory in Grenada during my honeymoon last year and we learned so much about my favorite treat. Here is what we learned about the different types of chocolate and their health qualities.
The Making of Chocolate
The making of chocolate is a long process. It begins with the producing of seeds of the Theobroma cacao tree, also known as cacao beans.
Next, the beans are dried, roasted, and ground into either a smooth butter or liquor. The percentage of cocoa butter and liquor contained in the chocolate is what determines the type of chocolate the end product becomes.
Different Types of Chocolate
Dark chocolate is comprised of chocolate liquor, sugar, and cocoa butter. It ranges from about 30-80% cocoa. Dark chocolate does not contain any milk solids, unlike its popular “cousin,” milk chocolate.
This makes dark chocolate a better option for those with allergies to milk solids. When it comes to health benefits, dark chocolates are rich in flavanols, powerful antioxidants that may also reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. Dark chocolate is also rich in minerals such as magnesium and iron.
As a side note… If you crave chocolate often, it is quite possible that you are magnesium deficient. Your body may crave chocolate because you need magnesium.
Milk chocolate contains on average about 10-40% cacao. It is then mixed with sugar and milk solids, making it much sweeter than it’s dark chocolate counterpart. For this reason, milk chocolate is also higher in calories and fat.
Good news is it does still contain a small amount of flavanols, but not nearly as much as dark chocolate.
White chocolate contains neither cacao beans or liquor. It is made of about 20% of cocoa butter. It has an average of 55% sugar, with the remaining being milk solids.
This is the sweetest chocolate of the bunch, resembling more of a smooth vanilla. Health benefits are minimal, however it does contain a small of minerals such as copper and magnesium.
Semisweet chocolate falls between bittersweet chocolate and sweet dark. It contains at least 35% cocoa solids and 20-40% sugars. Semisweet chocolate commonly used for baking because it is not too sweet, and not too bitter, creating a perfect balance in flavors.
Bittersweet chocolate must contain at least 35% cocoa according to the FDA. Most contain on average 50-80% cocoa. This makes it a very nutritious source of minerals and flavanols, if you can get past the bitterness!
As you can see, there are various different types of chocolate with different properties. If you are looking to use chocolate for it’s health benefits, the darker you can enjoy, the more nutrient dense your chocolate will be for you.
Are you a chocolate lover? If so, what’s your favorite type of chocolate?