Tag Archives: chocolate

Primary Season Special: Battle of the Ingredients – Chocolate

Milk Chocolate vs. Dark Chocolate

Introducing a new feature on the USConnect blog: battle of the ingredients!

At USConnect, we know you care about your health, so we help you make The Right Choice for a Healthier You™. That’s why we’ll periodically compare common ingredients of foods and discuss the pros and cons of each.

Which is better for you? Milk chocolate or dark chocolate?

Easter is right around the corner, and with it comes an onslaught of chocolate eggs, bunnies, and other shapes. So, if you’re going to indulge this Easter, which chocolate is better: milk or dark? To begin, it helps to know how chocolate is made. All chocolate (dark, milk, and white) starts with cocoa (cacao) beans with varying amounts of sugar, cocoa butter, and sometimes milk or vanilla. The type of chocolate depends on the percentage of cocoa in the mix, with dark chocolate usually having at least 70 percent, milk chocolate having no more than 50 percent, and white chocolate having less than 35 percent.

Let’s start with milk chocolate, which has traditionally been the most popular among American consumers. Milk chocolate, as its name suggests, contains milk, which gives it more calcium than dark chocolate (8 percent compared to 3 percent). Milk chocolate is also slightly lower in calories, fat, and saturated fat than dark chocolate. However, milk chocolate also contains significantly more sugar: 21 grams as opposed to 10 grams in dark chocolate. It also has higher cholesterol than milk chocolate.

Dark chocolate has more of almost everything than milk chocolate. As mentioned above, it has slightly more calories, fat, and saturated fat. More importantly, however, the higher cocoa content gives it more good stuff too: healthy monounsaturated fatty acids, fiber, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, and zinc. It also contains high levels of theobromine, which may help to lower blood pressure. Scientists have been touting the benefits of dark chocolate for years, and now you know why.

Bottom line: no one would recommend an all-chocolate diet (although it would be delicious), but if you’re going to indulge, go for dark chocolate every time.

Bonus: how does white chocolate stack up? Since the primary benefits of chocolate come from cocoa, white chocolate is the least healthy of the three. Avoid—if possible.

Chocolate: Still on trend, and heading in new directions.

It might not seem possible, but chocolate is becoming even more popular. Chocolate is already a favorite dessert—64% of restaurants offer a chocolate dessert, up from 53% in 2005, according to a menu research firm. The latest trends include a variety of chocolate new trends in chocolateflavors.

White chocolate is growing in popularity.  Although it’s not truly a chocolate—it’s actually a blend of cocoa butter, sugar, milk solids and salt—it’s showing up more often as a dessert option.  White chocolate does not contain the cocoa solids or the antioxidant powers of chocolate, but its milder sweetness combines well with other flavors.  White chocolate and cherry cookies, white chocolate mochas, and combinations of white and dark chocolate are all trendy options.

Mint chocolate is another popular combination.  Around the holidays, peppermint and chocolate combinations are popular, such as candy cane peppermint pie on a chocolate crust or peppermint bark.  Or, ask the Girl Scouts: Thin Mints are their best seller, making up 25% of cookie sales in 2012.  Mint and chocolate are also a frequent combination around St. Patrick’s Day.  Traditional, it’s not—but the continuing popularity of McDonald’s Shamrock Shake makes it clear that people love that green color.

Chocolate desserts are often topped or combined with berries—a little tartness to go along with all that sweet.  And perhaps it makes consumers feel a bit healthier, too?

As for candy bars, there are plenty of new things popping up inside chocolate bars, too.  People who enjoy a Nestle Crunch bar may be interested in chocolate bars with brown rice or puffed quinoa, which give that same type of crunch. Then, of course, there’s bacon.  Although the first bacon and chocolate combinations seemed intended to surprise the consumer, this salty and sweet combination has stuck around. Tea flavored ganache and caramels and exotic spices in chocolate are also turning up in more places.  Alternative nut butters—almond, walnut, and cashew—are making new appearances in candy bars as well.