Health by Chocolate
How enjoying a little chocolate might actually help your health.
Not All Chocolate Is Created Equal
While the amount of the healthy antioxidant flavonoids varies from one type
of chocolate to another, there's one guideline you can take to the bank: The
more nonfat cocoa solids in a chocolate product, the more antioxidants it
So which type of chocolate has the most flavonoids? The highest levels are
in natural cocoa powder (not Dutch cocoa, though, because it is alkalized
cocoa). The type second highest in flavonoids is unsweetened baking chocolate.
Dark chocolate and semisweet chocolate chips rank third, with milk chocolate
and chocolate syrup at the bottom of the list.
Keep in mind, though, that flavanol levels in types of chocolate can vary
- The cocoa beans selected.
- The processing of the beans and chocolate.
- Storage and handling conditions.
Perhaps in the near future, labels on chocolate products will list amounts
Which Type of Chocolate Has the Most Calories and Fat?
By far the lowest-calorie, lowest-fat form of chocolate is cocoa (the
unsweetened type). A serving of 3 tablespoons has about:
- 60 calories
- 1.5 grams fat
- 0 grams saturated fat
- 3 grams fiber
The equivalent in unsweetened baking chocolate is 1 square (1 ounce), which
- 140 calories
- 14 grams fat
- 9 grams saturated fat
- 4 grams fiber
By comparison, a typical 2-ounce serving of semisweet or milk chocolate
(with sweetener and other ingredients added) contains:
- 270 calories
- 17 grams of fat
- 10 grams of saturated fat
Semisweet chocolate adds around 3 grams of fiber per 2 ounces, while milk
chocolate typically contributes zero. The mostly insoluble fiber in cocoa comes
from the seed coat on the unprocessed cocoa bean.
All of this brings us to Health by Chocolate Rule of Thumb
#3: For a better flavonoid-to-calorie ratio, choose cocoa powder
whenever possible for baking and making hot chocolate.
Don't Forget the Calories
One thing most chocolate bars have in common is calories. An ounce of
sweetened chocolate will cost you about 150 calories -- that's about six to
seven chocolate kisses. Here's my take on it as a chocolate lover: Those six
kisses are worth every calorie.