The fact that chocolate brings staggering health benefits is another reason to love it even more. Aside from being a comfort food, it boosts brain function, reduces risk of diabetes, lowers cholesterol, and helps the body cope with inflammation. Its many antioxidants protect the skin against free radicals and even UV rays.
However, not all chocolates are the same. To experience any of these benefits, you need to eat the type that’s packed with nutritious content. Let’s compare the most common types: dark chocolate and milk chocolate.
Both dark chocolate and milk chocolate are derived from cocoa beans, the beanlike seeds rich in flavonoids (epicatechins, flavan-3-ols, and procyanidins). These rule as the body’s antioxidants, which help in neutralizing the oxygen-based free radicals. However, the chocolates differ in levels of cocoa content and other ingredients.
Here’s a quick comparison of contents for every half a bar of chocolate:
- Calories – Dark: 242, Milk: 219
- Fat – Dark: 26%, Milk: 18%
- Saturated Fat – Dark: 50%, Milk: 40%
- Carbohydrates – Dark: 6%, Milk: 8%
- Sugar – Dark: 10g, Milk: 21g
- Fiber – Dark: 16%, Milk: 4%
- Calcium – Dark: 3%, Milk: 8%
- Iron – Dark: 28%, Milk: 6%
- Magnesium – 23%, Milk: 7%
- Phosphorus – Dark: 12%, Milk: 9%
- Potassium – Dark: 8%, Milk: 4%
- Sodium – Dark: 0.3%, Milk: 1.3%
- Zinc – Dark: 9%, Milk: 6%
- Cholesterol – Dark: 0.3%, Milk: 3%
- Caffeine – Dark: 32mg, Milk: 8mg
- Theobromine – Dark: 324mg, Milk: 82mg
Potential Health Benefits
Flavonoids offer loads of surprising health benefits. Some of these are:
- Lower blood pressure
- Lower risk of blood clot
- Healthier blood vessels
- Reduced low-density lipoprotein cholesterol
- Improved cognitive function, alertness, and decline
- Enhanced Vitamin C absorption
- Lower risk of inflammation
- Stable blood glucose levels
- Lower risk of obesity
- Healthier heart
- Reduced stress
- Better mood, immunity, and memory
However, when you compare dark chocolate vs. milk chocolate in terms of flavonoid content, the latter holds less. In addition, the milk content may bind with the antioxidant, making them unobtainable. This is the exact same reason why drinking milk after eating a bar of dark chocolate isn’t recommended.
It’s clear as crystal that dark chocolate wins this brief comparison. Cocoa-rich chocolates beat even milk, a substance that’s long been considered one of the most nutritious beverages to consume by all ages.
Due to low sugar and high fiber and iron content, eating dark chocolate in moderation is strongly advised. Now, you won’t have to call it a guilty pleasure!
But like other food items, dark chocolate should also be consumed in moderation. Also, you may want to rearrange other food items in your diet to make room for chocolate consumption.
What to Buy
Nutritionists recommend choosing dark chocolates with high cocoa content of at least 70%. Before heading off to the counter, make sure to have a thorough look at the ingredients and nutritional facts on the label. Not all dark chocolates are created equal, as some brands could be healthier than the others. Of course, we’d like to spend more money on healthier options with real ingredients rather than weird contents.