Yesterday, July 7th 2020, was World Chocolate Day, also referred to as International Chocolate Day. You can guess how it is celebrated. Yes, World Chocolate Day is celebrated by consuming chocolate!

History records show July 7th 1550 was when chocolate was introduced to Europe. Cocoa producing countries have their own Chocolate Day celebrations, e.g., Ghana celebrates it in conjunction with Valentine’s Day (February 14th), the US celebrates National Chocolate Day on October 28th, and International Chocolate Day is celebrated on September 13th in some countries.

Dark chocolate and white chocolate:

We all generally know chocolate is made from cocoa extracted from the cacao plant. Cacao beans are extracted from cacao tree pods, fermented and turned into cocoa powder. To clarify, cacao refers to beans that have not been roasted, whereas cocoa refers to beans that have been roasted.

Chocolate comes in two forms, either dark chocolate or white chocolate.

Dark chocolate has a higher percentage of cocoa, and is lower in fat. It is a purer form of cocoa, and often has less sugar than milk chocolate. A chocolate having a cocoa solids percentage of 65 per cent or greater falls in the dark chocolate category.

On the other hand, white chocolate (commonly known as milk chocolate as well) is more refined, giving it a much creamier, sweeter and smoother texture, as it has less cocoa content. Milk chocolate usually contains about 30 per cent cocoa solids, with milk, sugar and other ingredients making up the bulk of the content.

Which is healthier – dark chocolate or white chocolate?

Though we do not need a special day to indulge in chocolate, here are some health benefits of eating dark chocolate and white chocolate that we would like to share.

Benefits of dark chocolate:

  • mainly consists of cocoa solids, cocoa butter and sugar.
  • higher percentage of cocoa solids (>65 per cent).
  • contains little milk solids.
  • rich in antioxidants (anti-inflammatory agents). The higher the percentage of cacao, the more antioxidants (and less sugar) it contains.
  • lower percentage of sugar, hence less calories.
  • contains soluble fibre (11gms per 100gm bar)
  • contains iron (67% of RDA), magnesium (58 percent), manganese (98 per cent) and copper (89 per cent) based on 100gm bar of dark chocolate 70 – 85 per cent cocoa. (RDA = recommended dietary allowance)
  • contains selenium, zinc, phosphorus and potassium

To enjoy these benefits, daily moderate consumption of one to two squares of high-quality dark chocolate of at least 70 per cent cocoa is recommended.

Benefits of white chocolate:

  • mainly consists of milk, sugar, and cocoa butter.
  • contains some calcium because of the milk content.
  • is caffeine free.
  • beneficial for people suffering from hypoglycaemia (glucose deficiency).
  • contains linoleic acid which helps lower hypertension.
  • contains methylxanthine which relaxes respiratory muscles.
  • mood booster.
  • increases blood flow.

While white chocolate contains a much higher content of sugar than dark chocolate, it can be enjoyed occasionally and in moderation.

A point to highlight here is to always check the label to see that the chocolate contains only cocoa butter and not palm oil. Some brands use palm oil which is an unhealthy substitute for cocoa butter, as palm oil contains trans-fat that raises bad cholesterol (LDL) and lowers good cholesterol (HDL).

To summarise: both dark and white chocolate have benefits, but the key point to bear in mind is moderation.

Happy belated World Chocolate Day 2020!

This article is for general information only and should not be used as medical advice. Always consult your doctor or a dietician before making any changes to your diet, especially if you have any underlying medical condition.

By Aaron
8th July 19:30 2020 

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