Saturday, January 26, 2013

Chocolate, Chocolate, or Chocolate?

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Dark Chocolate          Milk Chocolate       White Chocolate

There are many different types of chocolate: white chocolate, milk chocolate, dark chocolate, chocolate mixed with fruit, chocolate covered nuts, chocolate with salt, chocolate with and caramel…and the list goes on and on. Because of chocolate’s high fat and calorie content, it is important to make sensible decisions when it comes to your next chocolate indulgence. Here, we will try and help you see how your favorite chocolates stack up among some of the most popular varieties out there.

White Chocolate is not really chocolate--even though it has chocolate in its name. It contains no cocoa solids but instead has about 20% cocoa butter--the fat extracted from the cocoa beans--which gives it a subtle chocolaty flavor. Milk solids and sugar are added to the cocoa butter, making a rich a creamy faux-chocolate. Essentially, white chocolate is fat and sugar.

Milk Chocolate is usually made of around 10% cocoa solids and 15% milk solids, as well as sugar, an emulsifier, and vanilla for flavoring. Compared to dark chocolate, there are more milk ingredients, more sugar, and less of the nutritionally beneficial cocoa solids. Antioxidants are sacrificed for a smoother taste, which many Americans prefer: 71% of North American chocolate eaters prefer milk chocolate!

Dark Chocolate is made of cacao beans, sugar, an emulsifier to preserve texture, and flavoring such as vanilla. The percentage of cocoa solids in dark chocolate typically ranges from 30% to 70%. Because of the lack of milk additives and the high amount of cocoa solids, there are fewer calories per serving and more antioxidants and flavonoids in dark chocolate than other types of chocolate. Some research studies have shown that antioxidant properties of flavonoids found in cocoa may have potential health benefits. Therefore, opt for the dark chocolate with the highest percentage of cocoa to reap the antioxidant benefits of this delicious treat!

However, even the purported health benefits of flavonoids and antioxidants that might be found in some chocolate cannot outweigh the negative effects of too many calories and too much sugar and bad fat. So when you indulge, try to limit yourself to a square or two, and the darker the chocolate, the better!

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