What is Dark Chocolate?
Dark chocolate contains 50-90% cocoa solids, cocoa butter, and sugar, whereas milk chocolate contains anywhere from 10-50% cocoa solids, cocoa butter, milk in some form, and sugar. Though dark chocolate should not contain milk, there may be traces of milk from cross-contamination during processing, as the same machinery is often used to produce milk and dark chocolate.
Cocoa is rich in plant chemicals called flavanols that may help to protect the heart. Dark chocolate contains up to 2-3 times more flavanol-rich cocoa solids than milk chocolate. Flavanols have been shown to support the production of nitric oxide (NO) in the endolethium (the inner cell lining of blood vessels) that helps to relax the blood vessels and improve blood flow, thereby lowering blood pressure. Flavanols in chocolate can increase insulin sensitivity in short term studies; in the long run this could reduce risk of diabetes.
Dark Chocolate History
Chocolate’s lengthy history is believed to go all the way back to 1900 B.C. This is when the the Aztec civilization believed that cacao seeds were a gift of Quetzalcoatl, the god of wisdom. They used the seeds to prepare a bitter, frothy beverage that also included spices, wine or corn puree. (21) It was very different from today’s super sweet milk chocolate treats but closer to a very minimally processed dark chocolate made from raw cacao.
It was in 1847 that a British chocolate company (J.S. Fry & Sons) created the first solid edible chocolate bar from three ingredients: cocoa butter, cocoa powder and sugar. Huge names like Cadbury, Mars and Hershey came into the picture in the late 1800s and early 1900s. The love of chocolate has only continued to grow over the years. Now many mainstream chocolate producers make “dark chocolate” that really isn’t very healthy. On the other hand, there are now more and more companies making high-quality, high-cacao/cocoa content chocolate that’s not only dark, but also organic and fairly traded.
There’s no doubt that dark chocolate is trending in today’s marketplace, and sales don’t seem to be slowing down anytime soon. Over the last few years, the chocolate industry has seen a move to premium and certified organic dark chocolate, specifically products that are single-origin; have high cacao content’ use natural sweeteners, such as agave, stevia, yacon or coconut sugar; as well as increased sustainable sourcing and origin labeling. As science shows more and more benefits of dark chocolate, its popularity will only continue to grow.
To get off on the right foot, it may be helpful to understand the distinction between cacao, cocoa, and chocolate:4
- Cacao: Refers to the plant, a small evergreen tree of the species Theobroma cacao, and its dried seeds, also known as cacao beans or cocoa beans, prior to processing.
If you’re after health benefits, raw cacao nibs are what you’re looking for. Ideally, buy them whole and grind them yourself (a coffee grinder can be used for this) when using it in recipes.
Alternatively, you can eat them whole, just like you’d eat conventional chocolate chips. A healthy amount would probably be around ½ to 1 ounce per day. I personally grind 1 tablespoon of raw cacao nibs twice a day and put them into my smoothies.
• Cocoa: Refers to the roasted cacao, ground into a powder from which most of the fat has been removed.
• Cocoa butter: The fat component of the cacao seed.
• Chocolate: The solid food or candy made from a preparation of roasted cacao seeds; if the cacao seeds are not roasted, then you have “raw chocolate.”
When selecting chocolate, look for higher cacao and lower sugar content. In general, the darker the chocolate, the higher the cacao content.
However, since cacao is bitter, the higher the percentage cacao, the more bitter it is (the polyphenols are what make the chocolate bitter, so manufacturers often remove them. But, it’s those polyphenols that are responsible for many of chocolate’s health benefits).
To counteract the bitterness, most chocolate is sweetened, so it’s a matter of balancing nutritional benefit with palatability. For health benefits, choose chocolate with a cacao percentage of about 70 or higher.
• “White chocolate” contains no cocoa at all; it’s just a health-zapping mix of pasteurized milk and sugar.
Nutrition Value of Dark Chocolate
Dark chocolate is made from cacao beans, which are actually not beans at all. They’re the seeds of the fruit of the Theobroma cacao tree. To make dark chocolate, the seeds are dried and then processed to ultimately produce the hardened bars.
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You wouldn’t think any candy bar could ever be nutritious, but dark chocolate nutrition is actually quite impressive, especially when it comes to fiber, iron, magnesium, manganese and copper. Benefits of dark chocolate abound thanks to all this goodness.
Amount Per 100 grams
- Calories 546
- Total Fat 31 g 47%
- Cholesterol 8 mg – 2%
- Sodium 24 mg – 1% RDA
- Potassium 559 mg – 15% RDA
- Total Carbohydrate 61 g – 20% RDA
- Dietary fiber 7 g – 28% RDA
- Sugar 48 g
- Protein 4.9 g – 9% RDA
- Caffeine 43 mg
- Vitamin A 1% RDA
- Calcium 5% RDA
- Iron 44% RDA
- Vitamin B-12 3% RDA
- Magnesium 36% RDA
If you buy quality dark chocolate with a high cocoa content, then it is actually quite nutritious. It contains a decent amount of soluble fiber and is loaded with minerals. It also has plenty of potassium, phosphorus, zinc and selenium
Of course, 100 grams (3.5 ounces) is a fairly large amount and not something you should be consuming daily. All these nutrients also come with 600 calories and moderate amounts of sugar.
For this reason, dark chocolate is best consumed in moderation. The fatty acid profile of cocoa and dark chocolate is also excellent. The fats are mostly saturated and monounsaturated, with small amounts of polyunsaturated fat. It also contains stimulants like caffeine and theobromine, but is unlikely to keep you awake at night as the amount of caffeine is very small compared to coffee.
Content Of Carbohydrates
Chocolate milk also contains carbohydrates, which is great for your health, especially if you have been lifting a whole lot of weights. The count of carbohydrates also depends on the product you use. Different products have different content and levels of carbohydrates. Hershey’s Chocolate Milk seems to have the highest carb count whereas Hoods Calorie Countdown has the lowest. The sugar in this will boost your energy and restore it. You will be able to work out harder and better next time you hit the gym. In fact, this will help you enjoy the workout better. If your muscle tissues tear up, this will stop them from getting sore. In fact, they will get repaired on their own.
Macronutrients in Dark Chocolate
Dark chocolate is an energy-rich food that provides about 170 calories per ounce. You’ll also get varying amounts of sugar and fat from dark chocolate, depending on the amount of sweetener and fat used to make the chocolate. Typically, 1 ounce contains about 12 grams of total fat, 7 grams of saturated fat and 24 grams of sugar, according to the USDA. Because it’s such a rich source of calories, fat and sugar, you should eat chocolate in moderation, particularly if you’re trying to lose or maintain your weight or have diabetes.
Provides Essential Minerals
Eating dark chocolate provides you with a variety of minerals including iron, magnesium, copper and manganese. One ounce of dark chocolate contains 3 milligrams of iron. Women under the age of 50 need about 18 milligrams grams of iron daily, while men and women over age 50 need about 8 milligrams per day, according to the Office of Dietary Supplements. Copper works with iron to help form healthy red blood cells. It’s also essential for proper functioning of your immune system and nerves. Manganese is a mineral needed in only trace amounts, but it’s used to form bones, connective tissues, blood clotting factors and hormones, metabolize nutrients, regulate blood sugar and calcium absorption and maintain normal nerve and brain function. Magnesium is needed to maintain healthy bones — and plays a part in about 300 different chemical reactions in your body.
Caffeine and Theobromine
If you crave dark chocolate, you may be craving two stimulant compounds in the chocolate. Both caffeine and theobromine in chocolate excite or stimulate your central nervous system, helping to temporarily reduce drowsiness or fatigue. They may also relax certain smooth muscles, such as those in the throat and lungs, helping to relieve cough and open restricted airways, according to a study published in the February 2005 issue of “The FASEB Journal.” However, if you consume these compounds in excess they may cause headaches, rapid heartbeat, anxiety, restlessness, insomnia and nausea.
Amazing Health Benefits of Dark Chocolate
1. Heart Health
Dark chocolate has cocoa butter which contains equal amounts of oleic acid (a heart-healthy monounsaturated fat also found in olive oil), stearic and palmitic acids. It’s true that stearic and palmitic acids are forms of saturated fat, but research shows that stearic acid appears to have a neutral effect on cholesterol, which means it doesn’t raise it or lower it.
Dark chocolate has flavonoid which is beneficial for the heart health as it helps lower blood pressure and improves blood flow to the heart.Dark chocolates flavanols can also help make blood platelets less sticky and able to clot, which reduces the risk of blood clots and stroke.
A study published in 2015 titled followed the health of over 20,000 people for 11 years. The study concluded that “cumulative evidence suggests that higher chocolate intake is associated with a lower risk of future cardiovascular events” and that “there does not appear to be any evidence to say that chocolate should be avoided in those who are concerned about cardiovascular risk.” Among subjects who consumed the most chocolate, 12% developed or died of cardiovascular disease during the study compared to 17.4% of those who didn’t eat chocolate. This doesn’t give anyone license to eat a chocolate bar each day, but it’s impressive that this large and lengthy study does appear to show a positive connection between chocolate consumption and heart health.
2. Reduces Cancer Risk
Dark chocolate are rich in flavonoids and polyphenols which are antioxidants and helps neutralize free radicals whiuch may lead to cancer and other body damage.
3. Brain Health
The flavonoid found in dark chocolate increases blood flow to the cerebral gray matter which is beneficial in conditions with reduced cerebral blood flow, including dementia and stroke. A 2009 study published in the Journal of Nutrition demonstrated flavonoid-rich dark chocolate’s ability to improve cognitive ability, specifically in the elderly.
This cross-sectional study of over 2,000 participants ages 70 to 74 years old looked at the relationship between the intake of chocolate, wine and tea (all rich in flavonoids) and cognitive performance. The study concludes that “intake of flavonoid-rich food, including chocolate, wine, and tea, is associated with better performance across several cognitive abilities and that the associations are dose dependent.” The researchers suggest that further studies should take into account other bioactive dietary substances in chocolate, wine and tea to ensure that it’s their flavonoid content that helps the brain so much.
4. Improve Blood Flow and Lower Blood Pressure
The flavanols in dark chocolate can stimulate the endothelium to produce nitric oxide which send signals to arteries to relax which lowers resistance to blood flow and therefore reduces blood pressure. The flavanols in dark chocolate can stimulate the endothelium, the lining of arteries, to produce nitric oxide (NO).
One of the functions of NO is to send signals to the arteries to relax, which lowers the resistance to blood flow and therefore reduces blood pressure. Many controlled studies show that cocoa and dark chocolate can improve blood flow and lower blood pressure, though the effects are usually mild. However, one study in people with high blood pressure showed no effect, so take all this with a grain of salt.
5. Skin Care
The flavonols in dark chocolate can protect against sun-induced damage, improve blood flow to the skin and increase skin density and hydration.
6. Helps Boost Mood
The contents of dark chocolate help in the production of endorphins which are produced by the brain cells and are known to alleviate the mood. It stimulates the brain cells and is known to relax a person.
7. Regulates Blood Sugar.
Dark chocolate contains cacao which enhances enhances sensitivity to insulin and helps lower blood sugar levels. As a result, dark chocolate may lower one’s risk for type 2 diabetes. Also, with type 2 diabetes, managing blood sugar levels is what it’s all about and dark chocolate in moderation can help achieve this.
8. Prevents Asthma attacks
Dark chocolate contains three natural components: caffeine, theobromine and theophylline, all of which work together to halt bronchospasms and open constricted bronchial passages. These ingredients also enable dark chocolate to work as a cough-suppressant.
9. Helps with Pregnancy
Recent studies have shown that chocolate improves fetal growth. Some mothers may be at risk for preeclampsia, when the blood supply to the fetus is cut off or restricted. This occurs due to high blood pressure, which is natural during pregnancy. A study shows that regular chocolate consumption can reduce the risk of preeclampsia by lowering blood pressure.
10. Boosts Immunity
Dark chocolate’s potent antioxidant content—along with some of the other mechanisms of nutrients—make it a treat for your immune system. Cocoa can modulate the inflammatory response of your immune system. Inflammation is tissue’s response to pathogens, chemicals, wounding, or infections. Flavonoids are generally associated with anti-inflammatory properties, and chocolate is filled with them.
Cocoa can have a beneficial effect on certain cells that produce antibodies. Antibodies help your body battle bacteria and disease, so regular consumption of chocolate might even save you from getting malaria someday. Cocoa also has a positive effect on the lymphoid tissues. Lymphoid organs help to coordinate the immune response in humans. Cocoa helps the lymphoid organs produce cells more effectively, leading to a better defense against disease.
11. Powerful Source of Antioxidants
ORAC stands for “oxygen radical absorbance capacity.” It is a measure of the antioxidant activity of foods. Basically, researchers set a bunch of free radicals (bad) against a sample of a food and see how well the antioxidants in the food can “disarm” the radicals. The biological relevance of ORAC values is questioned, because it’s measured in a test tube and may not have the same effect in the body.
However, it is worth mentioning that raw, unprocessed cocoa beans are among the highest-scoring foods that have been tested. Dark chocolate is loaded with organic compounds that are biologically active and function as antioxidants. These include polyphenols, flavanols and catechins, among others. One study showed that cocoa and dark chocolate had more antioxidant activity, polyphenols and flavanols than any other fruits tested, which included blueberries and acai berries.
12. Raises HDL and Protects LDL From Oxidation
Consuming dark chocolate can improve several important risk factors for heart disease. In a controlled study, cocoa powder was found to significantly decrease oxidized LDL cholesterol in men. It also increased HDL and lowered total LDL for those with high cholesterol. Oxidized LDL means that the LDL (“bad” cholesterol) has reacted with free radicals.
This makes the LDL particle itself reactive and capable of damaging other tissues, such as the lining of the arteries in your heart. It makes perfect sense that cocoa lowers oxidized LDL. It contains an abundance of powerful antioxidants that do make it into the bloodstream and protect lipoproteins against oxidative damage. Dark chocolate can also reduce insulin resistance, which is another common risk factor for many diseases like heart disease and diabetes.
13. Reduce Heart Disease Risk
The compounds in dark chocolate appear to be highly protective against the oxidation of LDL. In the long term, this should cause much less cholesterol to lodge in the arteries, resulting in a lower risk of heart disease In fact, several long-term observational studies show a fairly drastic improvement. In a study of 470 elderly men, cocoa was found to reduce the risk of death from heart disease by a whopping 50% over a 15 year period.
Another study revealed that eating chocolate two or more times per week lowered the risk of having calcified plaque in the arteries by 32%. Eating chocolate less frequently had no effect. Yet another study showed that eating dark chocolate more than 5 times per week lowered the risk of heart disease by 57%. Of course, these three studies are observational studies, so can’t prove that it was the chocolate that reduced the risk.
However, since the biological process is known (lower blood pressure and oxidized LDL), it is plausible that regularly eating dark chocolate may reduce the risk of heart disease.
14. It Boosts Psychological Health
You may not believe it but consuming dark chocolate can improve your psychological health. It is a powerhouse of plenty of nutrients that function to soothe your tensed nerves. You can opt for a piece of dark chocolate in the state of despair. It will ease your condition reducing high stress and anxiety levels. Moreover, studies have shown that people who frequently eat dark chocolate have enhanced cognitive abilities. It is also a delicious source to improve concentration that helps you perform various functions.
15. For Eye Health
Scientists have revealed that dark chocolate is a fantastic food that has potential to improve your overall eye health. It is useful for weak eyesight. Dark chocolate can impede the occurrence of eye infections as well. However, no evidence is available to show its effects on eye diseases like cataracts, dry eyes, or macular degeneration. Also, it is essential that you consult with an optometrist if you’re coming down with an eye infection instead of eating tons of chocolate.
16. Works as an Energy Booster
You can give your energy levels a quick boost by consuming a piece of dark chocolate with mild cocoa content in it. Incorporating it into your daily routine will ward off factors that contribute to sudden fatigue. You can also munch on a tiny piece of the chocolate before a hardcore gym session. However, in case of constant fatigue and dizziness, you should consult with your primary care provider as it could be a symptom of a severe health problem.
17. For Oral Health
You may find it contradictory, but studies have revealed that dark chocolate can help achieve better oral health. Other types of chocolates are more damaging because they do not contain theobromine like dark chocolate does. Theobromine is a component that has potential to fight tooth decay. The nutrient can combat bacteria that damage your oral health. No doubt dark chocolate can improve your oral health, but you should not forget to opt for frequent dental hygiene.
18. For Cardiovascular Health
Nutritionists recommend that consuming a small amount of dark chocolate can improve your heart health. It helps perform functions such as allowing proper flow of blood. It can prevent blood clotting in your arteries, inflammation and cell damage. However, do not forget that everything works best in moderation. Also, it would be even better if you consult with your cardiologist before incorporating dark chocolate into your daily routine.
19. Treats Cough
Constant coughs are indeed worrisome. You can ease this condition by consuming a tiny piece of dark chocolate. The component theobromine found in it is said to control your coughs along with inflammation caused by it. Experts, however, encourage consulting with your primary care provider in a case like this to avoid further health problems.
20. Keeps You Full
It would not be wrong to declare dark chocolate a whole food as it is loaded with plenty of nutrients along with the adequate levels of fiber. When you consume it regularly, it will keep you full for hours providing you enough energy. Therefore, keeping a bar of it at home is a smart idea. You can munch on it in case of sudden hunger or can consume some as a healthy snack.
21. Enhance Your Mood
It can become a delicious source to enhance your mood. Studies have revealed that it is packed with phenethylamine. The compound is known to release endorphins. The latter functions to improve your mood, allowing you to feel good and have a positive frame of mind. Moreover, many studies have also proved that stress hormones can be controlled by consuming dark chocolate due to the properties found in it. Therefore, next time when you feel upset for no reason, try munching on some of it and let it do the job for you.
22. Protects Skin From UV Damage:
With great sun protection properties, it shields your skin against detrimental UV rays and thus helps in preventing conditions like sunburns and skin cancer.
23. Provides Nourishment:
Regular consumption of dark chocolate helps you achieve a smooth, problem-free complexion. It also keeps your skin moist and well nourished.
24. Excellent Skin-Detoxifier:
Dark chocolate makes an excellent skin-detoxifier in combination with caffeine. It sloughs off the dead skin cells and allows the newly exposed, fresh skin to breathe freely.
25. Promotes Skin Glow:
Stress is a huge beauty bummer. If not checked, it can ruin your entire personality. Dark chocolate boasts wonderful stress-relieving qualities and work wonders in getting you a glowing skin by reducing elevated stress hormones.
What to Buy
I only recommend buying and eating small amounts of minimally processed dark chocolate with a cacao content of at least 70 percent. This type of chocolate contains the most powerful antioxidants and the least amount of sugar. Thankfully, there are a lot of chocolate brands today that offer options that fits this 70 percentage minimum suggestion. The higher the percentage, the greater the potential health benefits of dark chocolate.
The addition of whole almonds to a high-percentage dark chocolate bar can be an added health booster, but watch out for unhealthy additions like marshmallows and caramel. Those unhealthy ingredients can mitigate the benefits of dark chocolate.
You should also look for dark chocolate that’s created from fairly traded or organic cocoa/cacao beans. Cocoa can be minimally processed, but if you want raw or the least processed option, you definitely want cacao to be the main ingredient in your dark chocolate.
Your dark chocolate of choice should also be made from cocoa butter, not palm and/or coconut oils. Also look out for any hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils in the ingredient list. Now that huge commercial chocolate makers are responding to the love of dark chocolate and making their own versions, you have to be careful. A label that reads “dark chocolate” doesn’t automatically make it a healthy choice. The healthiest or best dark chocolate is made from cacao or cocoa that’s organic, minimally processed and definitely not dutched.
Dark chocolate is actually included in the University of Michigan Integrative Medicine Healing Foods Pyramid™ as part of a balanced, whole foods, plant-based diet. It recommends up to seven ounces of dark chocolate each week with an average intake of one ounce each day. I agree with this moderate recommendation.
Dark chocolate isn’t as high in sugar as other chocolate varieties, but if you’re diabetic or just looking to lower your sugar intake, you can now find dark chocolate bars sweetened with stevia and other alternative lower/no sugar natural sweeteners.
Now, are you ready for some of the most delicious as well as healthy dark chocolate recipes? You can get all the benefits of dark chocolate without any of the guilt.
Dark Chocolate Recipe
Dark Chocolate Almond Butter Recipe
- 2 cups sprouted almonds (or dry roasted almonds)
- 3.5 ounce dark chocolate bar, minimum 72% cacao
- 2 tsp coconut oil
- ½ tsp sea salt
- coconut sugar, to taste
- In a small sauce pan or double boiler, melt the dark chocolate and coconut oil. Set aside.
- In a food processor, add almonds and pulse until almonds are a fine meal. Turn on food processor to high until the almonds begin to break down into a butter consistency.
- Add in melted chocolate mixture and sea salt and continue processing until a smooth creamy texture is achieved.
- If desiring more sweetness, add in coconut sugar one teaspoon at a time.
- Pour in jars and serve immediately or store in the refrigerator.
Dark Chocolate Protein Truffles Recipe
- ¼ cup medjool dates, chopped
- ¼ cup vanilla whey protein powder
- ¼ cup almond milk
- ⅛ cup steel cut oats
- 2 tablespoon honey
- 1 tablespoon coconut flour
- 2 dark chocolate bars, minimum 72% cacao
- ¼ cup coconut oil
- Mix together the dates, protein powder, almond milk, honey, oats, and coconut flour and mold into 8 balls.
- Melt chocolate and coconut oil over medium-low heat in a saucepan.
- Once melted, turn off the heat and let the chocolate cool for 5-10 minutes and allow it to thicken. Dip each ball into the melted chocolate until completely covered.
- Put them in the freezer to harden
Dark Chocolate Coconut Clusters Recipe
- ¾ cup of coconut flakes
- ⅔ cup coconut oil, melted
- ½ cup sprouted almond butter
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 1 dark chocolate bar, minimum 72% cacao
- In a bowl, mix all but the chocolate
- From the mixture, form small balls in your hands. Set them on a plate and put them in the freezer to harden
- Melt chocolate over medium heat. Once melted, turn heat off and wait 5 minutes. Take frozen balls and dip in chocolate and return them to plate. Place in freezer to harden.
Dark Chocolate: How To Select And Store
A variety of dark-chocolate brands makes it a bit difficult to choose the best one. For your ease, I have few helpful tips to offer regarding the selection of dark chocolate below:
- While buying the dark chocolate, look out for the one having smooth, unblemished surface. The chocolate you pick shouldn’t be dull, and it must not have any sort of streaks and dots.
- If possible, try to break the chocolate before you pay for it. If it breaks with a clean and firm snap, buy it without hesitation. Also, pay special attention to the texture. Never buy it if it’s grainy or overly greasy in texture; rather look for the one with a velvety texture.
- Taste a little chocolate before buying it. Grab it if it has a chocolaty flavor and aroma.
- Store your dark chocolate in a cool, dry, odor-free place. Keep away from direct sunlight.
- Dark Chocolate: Usage Tips
- Don’t add water in the chocolate while brewing it as it tends to harden your chocolate. Also make sure to keep all the utensils used for making a chocolate recipe dry, as even a little bit of moisture can ruin your whole recipe.
- Keep the heat under control. Don’t melt chocolate at a very high heat.
- With all the above mentioned dark chocolate benefits, there is no doubt that chocolate lovers should develop a taste for this type of chocolate too! It’s a combination of chocolate and good health. What more can you ask for!
Negative Effects Of Dark Chocolate
To avoid overindulging in dark chocolate yet obtain the benefits of dark chocolate, it’s a smart idea to eat a little piece by itself after a solid meal or include it in a recipe. If you’re sensitive to caffeine or looking to avoid caffeine entirely, it’s important to know that there are measurable amounts of caffeine in dark chocolate. Caffeine side effects can include nervousness, increased urination, sleeplessness and a rapid heartbeat, all reasons to avoid caffeine overdose.
According to Mayo Clinic, chocolate can also cause:
- allergic skin reactions
- colic in infants
- decreased bone density
- dental caries
- increased cholesterol levels
- increased insulin levels
- irregular heart rhythms
- irritable bowel syndrome
- kidney damage and disorders
- nausea and vomiting
- neck pain
- sleep disturbances
- stomach rumbling and upset stomach
- swelling under the skin
- unpleasant taste
- weight gain
This is a long list, but all of these possible side effects can typically be avoided by not overindulging in dark chocolate. Women who are pregnant, breastfeeding or trying to become pregnant should also make sure not to have large amounts of chocolate. In moderation, dark chocolate is considered safe for pregnant women.
If you’re allergic or have an intolerance to dairy, be extra careful about label reading and research before choosing your go-to dark chocolate. Milk is legally permitted to be put into dark chocolate, but since it’s one of the eight major food allergens, U.S. laws do require chocolate makers to list milk as an ingredient.
According to the FDA, chocolates are unfortunately one of the most common sources of undeclared milk linked to consumer reactions. In addition, recent testing by the FDA found that you can’t always tell if a dark chocolate has milk just by reading the ingredient list. Many manufacturers make their dark chocolate on the same equipment that they use for milk chocolate production so traces of milk end up in the dark chocolate too. If you’re concerned about milk possibly being in your dark chocolate, contact the manufacturer.
Another possible allergen to watch out for in dark chocolate (even organic brands) is soy lecithin, which is commonly added as an emulsifying agent. Soy lecithin does contain trace amounts of soy proteins, and these have been found to include soy allergens. However, soy lecithin does not appear to contain sufficient soy protein residues to induce allergic reactions in the majority of soy-allergic consumers.
Some people look to avoid soy lecithin not for allergic reasons, but because of their desire to avoid genetically modified soy. If you’re going to buy a dark chocolate with soy lecithin, I recommend looking for organic soy lecithin or non-GMO soy lecithin to avoid GMOs.
Dark chocolate is not a low-calorie or low-fat food so these are some other good reasons not to overdo it. The flavor is so rich that you can enjoy it and get the benefits of dark chocolate with just a little piece. If you have pets, make sure they don’t get into your dark chocolate stash since chocolate in all forms is poisonous to both cats and dogs.