World Chocolate Day: Dark vs milk vs white, how healthy is your chocolate

Dark, milk, white. The choices of chocolates can be overwhelming, but what’s the difference? Is white sweeter than milk? Is white chocolate even chocolate? How can chocolate be milky? If any of these questions have ever crossed your mind, you’re not alone.

Saturday marks World Chocolate Day, so it’s just the right day to know about the different kinds of chocolate and how healthy they really are. Let us start by talking about cacao percentage.

“Not all chocolate is created equal. Some pack a more powerful health punch than others, thanks to naturally occurring healthy chemicals found in cacao. Cacao percentage is the amount of cacao to sugar. So a bar that is 75% cacao contains 25% sugar,” Dr Anupam Dey, a Kolkata-based dietician said.

“The higher the amounts of cacao, the darker the chocolate, and the more health benefits you’ll reap, such as reduced blood pressure and a better mood,” Dey added.

Now that you’ve got a basic understanding of what makes chocolate healthy, let’s talk about the different kinds of chocolate:

Dark chocolate
Any chocolate that contains very little to no milk solids (less than 12%) and at least 35% cacao content. Bittersweet chocolate is a dark chocolate that has a cacao content of 50-99%. It’s darker with a strong flavour. While, semi-sweet chocolate is another type of dark chocolate, but with a lower cacao content than bittersweet (35-50%). Some consider it the ‘gateway’ dark chocolate as it has a more accessible creamy flavour than bittersweet.

Milk chocolate
Any chocolate that contains more than 12% milk or milk solids is considered to be milk chocolate. The cacao content tends to be 33-45%. Milk chocolate is made of milk (usually milk powder), sugar, and cocoa powder, which is what gives it its brown colour. Dark chocolate follows the same recipe formula, except the ratio of ingredients plays a huge part in the bitterness.

White chocolate
White chocolate is actually a bit of a misnomer, as it contains no chocolate (cacao solids) at all. Instead, it contains 20% cacao butter. White chocolate is made of only the fatty cocoa butter extracted from the cocoa bean. There’s no cocoa powder, which is why it doesn’t have the classic chocolate-y taste. It’s a combination of cocoa butter and milk solids that’s sweetened with a lot of sugar.

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