What is the Best Dark Chocolate?
There are several ways to determine which chocolate is best, depending upon what you are looking for. Whether you want dark chocolate with the best flavor, the most health benefits, or the one that works with your particular dietary requirements this article will provide an overview of the qualities of different chocolates and the companies they come from to help you answer the question, “What is the best dark chocolate?”
For many people, flavor and texture will determine which dark chocolate is best. If you are one of these, look for popular dark chocolate products offered by companies such as Hershey or Dove. These products are usually labeled “dark” but often do not have any numbers revealing the percentage of cocoa in their products. When there are numbers, choose between 50-70% dark. These chocolates often have many additional ingredients to make them taste good and have a great “mouthfeel” but at the expense of health benefits.
The best dark chocolate for health benefits is made up of simple ingredients, often containing nothing more than cocoa and sugar. Look for at least 70% cocoa and as few additional ingredients as possible unless the ingredients offer additional health benefits, for example, walnuts or coconut.
People who want the health benefits but find that dark chocolate is too bitter are often able to work their way up slowly. Cutting back on other sweets at the same time will allow chocolate to take on a whole new level of sweetness.
Nutrients Found in Dark Chocolate Include:
- Soluble fiber
- Good fats
- Minerals: Iron, magnesium, copper, manganese, phosphorous, and others
- One of the best sources of antioxidants including flavonoids and polyphenols
- Stimulants: caffeine and theobromine
Health Benefits of Eating Dark Chocolate Include:
- Improves blood flow
- Helps prevent diabetes
- Promotes weight loss
- Improves cholesterol
- Decreases risk of heart disease
- Lowers blood pressure
- May reduce cancer
- Improves brain function
- Protects against sun
- Reduces stress
- Reduces depression
- Improves insulin sensitivity
Some dark chocolate will also contain:
- Cocoa processed with Alkali
- Cocoa butter (softens texture, adds flavor)
- Soy lecithin-an emulsifier (blends flavors)
- Milk Fat
- Natural or Artificial Flavors (vanilla)
The Dutching Process
When chocolate is dutched, it is treated with Alkali which darkens the chocolate and reduces the bitterness. Unfortunately, dutching chocolate can reduce flavanols by half. In the U.S., dutched chocolate includes the words “cocoa processed with alkali” in the list of ingredients. You may also see the words “Dutched”, “European Style”, or “Alkalized” on the label.
Cadmium in Dark Chocolate
Some dark chocolate may contain traces of cadmium which is a soft, bluish-white element that is found in the earth’s crust. Plants such as leafy greens, potatoes, and soybeans can absorb cadmium from the soil. Large levels of cadmium can have adverse effects on health, especially in the kidneys, although eating a moderate amount of dark chocolate is unlikely to cause problems for most people.
According to Consumer Labs, cocoa has more cadmium than dark chocolate and they recommend that adults drink no more than one cup of cocoa per day. If you are interested in learning more about the levels of cadmium in specific brands of dark chocolate, Consumer Labs has done a study that reveals cadmium levels and levels of flavonols in many popular chocolate products. The report can be purchased from their website. Here is a video with additional information:
Here is a sampling of some common choices in dark chocolate. As you can see, the ingredients vary quite a bit from one bar to another so it’s important to know what you are looking for before you toss something into your cart.
Dagoba 59% Cacao: Ingredients: Organic dark chocolate, cane sugar, milk, cacao beans, cacao butter, lecithin
- Dagoba Chocolate is Organic, Non-GMO, OUD
Dove Dark Chocolate (bar): Ingredients: Semisweet Chocolate (Sugar, Chocolate, Chocolate Processed with Alkali, Cocoa Butter, Milkfat, Soy Lecithin, Natural and Artificial Flavors).
Hershey’s Special Dark (bar): Ingredients: Sugar, Chocolate, Cocoa Butter, Milk Fat, Cocoa processed with Alkali, Lecithin (soy), Natural Flavor, Milk
Hershey’s Kisses Special Dark: Ingredients: Sweet Chocolate (Sugar, Chocolate, Cocoa Butter, Milk Fat, Cocoa processed with Alkali, Lecithin (soy), Natural Flavor, Milk)
70% and Darker:
ChocZero’s Keto Bark, Dark Chocolate Almonds with Sea Salt: Ingredients: Dark Chocolate (unsweetened chocolate, cocoa butter), Soluble Corn Fiber (GMO free), Almonds, Sea Salt, Sunflower Lecithin, Monk Fruit Extract, Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla Beans. Contains tree nuts
- All natural, non-GMO, soy free, gluten free. Made proudly in the USA.
Dagoba Rich Dark 74% Cacao: Ingredients: Cacao beans, cane sugar, cacao butter, soy lecithin, milk
Dagoba Extra Dark 84% Cacao: Ingredients: Cacao beans, cane sugar, cacao butter, soy lecithin, milk
Dagoba Organic Chocolate Bar Baking Unsweetened: Ingredients: Cacao beans
- Dagoba Chocolate is Organic, Non-GMO, OUD
Ghirardelli Chocolate Intense Twilight Delight 72% Cacao Bars: Ingredients: Unsweetened chocolate, sugar, cocoa butter, vanilla, soy lecithin-an emulsifier
Ghirardelli Intense Dark Midnight Reverie 86% Chocolate Bar: Ingredients: Bittersweet chocolate (Unsweetened chocolate, cocoa butter, sugar, milk fat, soy lecithin-an emulsifier), vanilla, natural flavor
Ghirardelli Intense Dark Moonlight Mystique 92% Cacao Bar: (NEW) Ingredients unavailable.
Ghirardelli Chocolate Baking Bar, 100% Cacao Unsweetened Chocolate
Green & Black’s Organic 70% Dark Chocolate Candy Bar: Cocoa butter and a touch of vanilla combine with 70% Cacao to produce a smooth and intensely dark chocolate experience.
Green & Black’s Organic Dark Chocolate – 85% Cacao: Ingredients: Organic Chocolate, Organic Cocoa Butter, Organic Cocoa, Organic Raw Cane Sugar, Organic Vanilla Extract
- Green and Blacks Organic is USDA Organic, Fair Trade, and UN Certified Ethically Sourced chocolate
Lindt Excellence Bar, Dark Chocolate 70% Cocoa: Ingredients: sugar, cocoa mass, cocoa butter, natural bourbon vanilla beans. Dry cocoa solid: 70% mini
Lindt Excellence Bar, 85% Cocoa Extra Dark Chocolate: Ingredients: Chocolate, cocoa powder, cocoa butter, demerara sugar, bourbon vanilla beans
Lindt Excellence Bar, 90% Cocoa Supreme Dark Chocolate: Ingredients: Chocolate, cocoa butter, cocoa powder processed with alkali, sugar, bourbon vanilla beans
- Unroasted, Stone-Ground, Organic & Vegan*
- Sweetened with maple, inulin or erythritol
- Uses ethically traded Arriba Nacional whole bean cacao from Ecuador
*Only Holy CaCow is not vegan.
Taza Chocolate – Origin Bar – 87% Dark Stone Ground: Ingredients: Organic cacao beans, organic cane sugar, organic vanilla beans.
Taza Chocolate – Wicked Dark – 95% Stone Ground: Ingredients: Organic cacao beans, organic cane sugar.
- Taza stone-ground chocolate is less processed, so the texture is satisfyingly gritty.
- Direct Trade, Certified USDA Organic, Non-GMO Project Verified, Certified Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free, Soy-Free, Kosher, and Vegan.
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I hope this article has helped you to determine what is the best dark chocolate. If you have any questions or comments, please leave them below and I will do my best to answer.
As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. ~Theresa