Is Dark Chocolate Or Milk Chocolate Better For Your Diet?
I’m a bit of the chocolate fiend and to be honest, cocoa or chocolate in some form is probably one of my most consumed food items on a daily basis. I’m not sure I should admit that so proudly, but here we are. But is dark or milk chocolate better for your diet?
We’re going to talk about the benefits of cocoa or chocolate, and we’re going to look at both milk chocolate and dark chocolate.
Benefits Of Cocoa
To give you a very brief overview of the benefits of cocoa, it’s very high in fibre. In fact, gram for gram it’s three times as high in fibre as oats, which is normally recommended as a beneficial source of fibre in diets.
It’s rich in antioxidants and the high polyphenol content can also help with feelings of calmness and feelings of contentment. So cocoa as is, is good for you and has a lot of benefits to it.
When you compare milk chocolate and dark chocolate from a health or nutritional point of view, everyone’s always going to say dark chocolate is better for you. And with some nuances, I do agree with that.
Nutritional Content Of Chocolate Bars
Just for clarity when I’m talking about dark chocolate, I mean over 70% cocoa content.
With a lot of milk chocolate brands, probably most, by weight, the largest single ingredient is sugar, then milk powder, and then cocoa. So you’re not actually getting a lot of cocoa content in milk chocolate.
With dark chocolate, it’s usually going to be cocoa as your main ingredient with some sugar.
And then the darker percentages might not even have milk so already, or naturally more friendly for vegans as well.
You are getting a much stronger hit of cocoa from dark chocolate from milk chocolate.
In terms of calories, milk chocolate comes in very slightly lower in calories than dark chocolate, but not by much and probably not enough for it to make any difference in your decision-making process of which one you want to have.
It’s Not Just About Nutrition And Calories
But if you’re looking at a weight-based goal or target, then it’s important to look at your response to food beyond just calories and nutritional content.
I’ll explain that because I’m not sure I worded that right.
The sustainability of your diet and portion control are both important if you are looking at a weight-based goal.
And a lot of people, especially if they’re used to milk chocolate, don’t really like dark chocolate because it tastes a lot more bitter.
If you are in a calorie-controlled eating plan for whatever reason, and you have a chocolate craving and you want a chocolate fix, dark chocolate might not necessarily satisfy that craving.
Because you still have that itch to scratch, you still have that craving, you might end up eating more of something else as well, just to kind of try and hit that sweet spot.
You might actually have thought you made a better choice nutritionally, but you’ve actually ended up eating more to try and make up for the emotional response that you’re not getting.
Because you still have that craving, you might end up eating more than if you just had the milk chocolate in the first place and satisfied the craving that you’ve got.
So yes, dark chocolate is better nutritionally and it has a lower sugar content, but that doesn’t necessarily mean by default that you should always go for dark chocolate.
It depends on your lifestyle, your goals, your preferences, and what’s sustainable for what you’re trying to achieve with your health and your fitness.
Is Sugar-Free Chocolate Better For You?
The main “downside” to milk chocolate is its sugar content.
Nowadays, there are plenty of sugar-free or natural sugar versions of both milk, chocolate and dark chocolate.
I haven’t found any that quite hit the same spot as normal 85 to 90% dark chocolate does for me.
But that doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re going to feel the same about them.
Bear in mind that variations of sugar-free chocolate or chocolates that are advertised as sugar-free will normally have sugar alcohols in them. So things like xylitol, erythritol, maltitol I think that’s how you pronounce it.
And sugar alcohols are a whole separate topic that I’ll probably come onto at another time. It’s just something to be aware of that your body may react differently to those as well.
But if you are being mindful of your sugar content and still prefer milk chocolate, then the sugar-free options might be something to explore.
So Is Dark Or Milk Chocolate Better For Your Diet?
Wrapping all that up, cocoa has a lot of benefits. Dark chocolate has a higher nutritional value than milk chocolate.
The better one for you will depend on your goals, your food preferences, and your lifestyle. There are sugar-free options available for both, which may be something to explore, but that doesn’t mean you have to cut out milk chocolate entirely if that’s the one you prefer.