Main chocolate types

The naming of the chocolate depends on the amount and proportion of its ingredients, such as chocolate liquor, milk solids, sugar or cocoa butter.

However, what determines its health properties and is also primarily responsible for the chocolate’s quality, are the dry non-fat cocoa solids.

These components consist of the “cocoa solids”, “cocoa”, “cocoa mass” or “cocoa liquor” free of cocoa butter. In other words, they are the dry cocoa mass (with moisture removed) after extracting the cocoa butter.

NOTE: the nomenclature rules vary from country to country. For instance, “cocoa solids” can mean cocoa beans with or without its fat components. For the purpose of clarity, I will refer to cocoa solids without its fat component as non-fat cocoa solids.

Despite the slightly different names and rules between countries, it is established that dark chocolate, by law, must have the highest minimum amount of “cocoa solids” (both non-fat and fat components) of all available chocolates (usually 35% is the minimum). (1)Guidance on the Cocoa and Chocolate Products Regulations 2003. Available here..

Using the case of the United States, the following list consists of the most common types of chocolates with the FDA naming requirements:

  • Milk chocolate (chocolate liquor >=10%, Milk solids >=12%)
  • Sweet chocolate (chocolate liquor >=10%, Milk solids >=12%)
  • Dark (Semisweet/bittersweet) chocolate (chocolate liquor >=35%, milk solids <12%)
  • White chocolate (cocoa butter >=20%, milk solids >=14%)

Variety of beans

Over 95% of all chocolates available are made from the Forastero type. However, chocolates made from the Criollo or the Trinitario varieties are considered by experts as fine grade chocolates with more refined flavors, often described as mild nutty and full of flavor. (2)Available here.

Our preference ultimately depends on our personal taste.  However, it is important to bear in mind that other factors, such as other ingredients or distinct processing methods, may overpower the differences between these varieties.

Chocolate junk

Chocolates are tasty and provide extreme pleasure while eating them, but some products, such as bars coated with chocolate, chocolates with a filling, milk chocolate, sweet and white chocolate, contain a high amount of non-cocoa ingredients,  such as sugar or milk solids. These additions and transformations of the chocolate decrease the health benefits that are generally related to cocoa.

In fact, these chocolate products are mostly harmful to our health, due to their high amount of sugar.

However, this doesn’t necessarily mean that all dark chocolates contain healthy amounts of cocoa solids or sugar.

As mentioned above, dark chocolate must have, by law, as little as 35% of cocoa solids, in which case it can have a potentially high ratio of cocoa butter to non-fat cocoa solids.

The direct implication of this rule is that not only the proportion of non-fat cocoa solids (the healthy component) may be low but also chocolate manufacturers are free to add up to 65% of junk ingredients (e.g. sugar, soy emulsifiers) and still call it dark chocolate.

Therefore “dark chocolate” doesn’t automatically mean healthy.

Since dark chocolate is associated with several health benefits, it is important to distinguish how to pick the best types and to avoid junk chocolate.

Nutritional information for Chocolate 70% cocoa (per 1/2 oz. - 13g serving)

MACRO-NUTRIENTS
NutrientAmount% of RDA
for men
Rating
for men
% of RDA
for women
Rating
for women
Fiber (g)1.65.3-6.4-
Omega 3 (mg)4.80.3-0.4-
Omega 6 (mg)00-0-
MICRO-NUTRIENTS (VITAMINS)
NutrientAmount% of RDA
for men
Rating
for men
% of RDA
for women
Rating
for women
Vitamin A (IU)5.50.2-0.2-
Vitamin C (mg)00-0-
Vitamin E (mg)00-0-
Vitamin K (mcg)11.4-1.4-
Thiamin - B1 (mg)00-0-
Riboflavin - B2 (mg)00-0-
Niacin - B3 (mg)0.21.3-1.4-
Pantothenic Acid - B5 (mg)0.11.7-2.5-
Vitamin B6 (mg)00-0-
Vitamin B12 (mcg)0.14.2-4.2-
Folate (mcg)00-0-
Choline (mg)00-0-
MICRO-NUTRIENTS (MINERALS)
NutrientAmount% of RDA
for men
Rating
for men
% of RDA
for women
Rating
for women
Calcium (mg)10.21-1-
Copper (mg)0.333.3Excellent33.3Excellent
Iron (mg)1.721.3Excellent9.4-
Magnesium (mg)31.97.6-10-
Manganese (mg)0.313Good16.7Good
Phosphorus (mg)43.14.3-4.3-
Potassium (mg)1002.6-3.6-
Selenium (mcg)11.4-1.7-
Sodium (mg)2.80.2-0.2-
Zinc (mg)0.54.5-6.3-
For Table Legend & Data Sources Information click here.

Other nutritional information for Chocolate 70% cocoa (per 1/2 oz. - 13g serving)

Other informationAmountRating
Calories (Cal) 80.9-
Kilojoules (kJ)338.5-
Glycemic Index (GI)23Low
Portion for GL (g)50-
Glycemic Load (GL)6Low
Energy nutrientsAmount% of Energy
Total Carbs (g)6.427.8
Fat (g)666.7
Protein (g)1.15.4
For Table Legend & Data Sources Information click here.

References   [ + ]

1. Guidance on the Cocoa and Chocolate Products Regulations 2003. Available here.
2. Available here.

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