Recently, one of my lovely subscribers Noreen e-mailed me a question about dark chocolate…
“Have you found any chocolate that does not contain sugar or has a lesser amount? All the dark chocolate I have found still lists sugar as one of the top three ingredients.”
Great question Noreen – thank you! Let’s look at this….
Generally, there aren’t a significant amount of ingredients that constitute dark chocolate, so there’s a high chance that sugar will be in the top three. Bars that are lower in cocoa solids tend to have sugar as the 1st or 2nd ingredient, and for those which are darker, you may find it goes down to 2nd or 3rd, simply because the cocoa makes up more of the bar substance.
What to look for
When you’re looking at dark chocolate, it’s better to look at the sugar per 100g so you can work out the % e.g. 10g sugar per 100g equals 10%.
Bear in mind, those with the same cacao % can still have differences in sugar amount. Here’s just a selection of chocolate that shows you the comparison (Highest in sugar first).
Lindt Excellence chilli
46.4g sugar per 100g
49% cocoa solids
Green & Blacks 70%
28.9g sugar per 100g
70% cocoa solids
Nero & Bianco (the brand that is stocked in my office canteen!)
27g sugar per 100g
70% cocoa solids
Green & Blacks 85%
13.8g sugar per 100g
85% cocoa solids
Lovechock 100% Raw Pure Nibs
12g sugar per 100g
80% cocoa solids
Lindt Excellence 90%
7g sugar per 100g
90% cocoa solids
(I am going to do a full review of some of these in a separate post but I’m still in testing phase!)
More buying dark chocolate tips
Generally, what I first look for in a dark chocolate is sugar per 100g, and then it’s cocoa % because this is the powerful antioxidant element that has the health benefit. I think 12-13g is a reasonable amount, but I do also like the 90% which is only 7g. I appreciate you need to work up to these as your taste buds adjust their sugar sensitivity. Lots of people can find dark chocolate bitter, especially if they are accustomed to a sugary diet.
Think about the quality when you pick dark chocolate. Expensive good quality chocolate is usually associated with a nicer texture and deeper taste. It means you really savour each square and are more inclined to make it last rather than gobble it down.
Note: A year ago I used to love the Lindt Chilli chocolate but notice how that is top of the list and nearly 50% sugar, despite still being labelled as a ‘dark’ chocolate. Unfortunately I do find this one a bit sickly now but I love the flavour combination. (Hi Lindt, please can you make a Chilli 85% one just for me? Great, thanks!)
Some brands might advertise that it’s been sweetened with coconut sugar/nectar, xylitol or stevia which are all healthy-ish alternatives in their own way to raw cane sugar. I’ve posted on all three of these, so just make sure you’re clued up so you know what you’re ingesting when you eat them. At the end of the day, if it’s a square of dark chocolate eaten every once in a while, I’m happy to let this very small amount of raw cane sugar pass my lips.
To let you know, I now eat dark chocolate once or twice a week, if that. I used to eat it everyday. Consider that if you’re eating it everyday, you’re having refined sugar everyday and your cementing it as a habit, which with time will only get stronger. Try and break the routine if you can and do a good few days without it.
I hope that was helpful. What are your thoughts on dark chocolate? Do you love it or hate it? Find it so bitter it’s not worth having? Favourite brands?
P.S. I was delighted when Noreen e-mailed me with her great question so if you’ve a burning query, please let me know! (firstname.lastname@example.org)