What’s REALLY in the chocolate we buy? We ask dietitian Natasha Meerding to find us the healthiest option
Regular milk chocolate
In general: High in sugar, saturated fats and milk solids, dismally low in cocoa and containing preservatives and flavourings, store-bought milk chocolate is designed for overeating, which can quickly push you beyond your calorie needs and put you on a blood sugar rollercoaster.
For you: Dietitian Natasha Meerding says that if it is your fave, you’ll benefit from a small portion of a premium product, savoured rather than sucked down while you watch So You Think You Can Dance.
70% cocoa chocolate
In general: Often referred to as the ‘healthy’ chocolate, 70% cocoa chocolate contains considerably more cocoa and less sugar than its milk chocolate relative. Some ‘raw’ chocolates may use evaporated cane juice instead of sugar, and flavonoids in cocoa have been linked to cardiovascular health.
For you: If you find it hard to stop eating a block of Crunchie, try switching to Lindt 70 per cent. The bitter edge and shorter texture vote against more than a row at a time.
In general: Would you like chocolate with your cocoa butter? While more expensive white chocolate does contain the cocoa butter, it is devoid of cocoa solids, which typically qualify ‘chocolate’ and deliver the health benefits associated with choccie.
For you: For a low-GI white choc fix, try Sweet William’s White Delight. Or try a yoghurt-covered raw food or cereal bar with no added sugar. If nothing but the decadent Swiss will do, buy one Lindor ball and savour it. That’s our kind of mindful eating!
In general: As the name suggests, unsweetened chocolate contains no added sugar and can be bitter. However, it’s among the healthiest forms of commercial chocolate. It also works in chocolate savoury dishes – think South American cuisine.
For you: Look for a bar with no added sugar, such as Sweet William’s new wittily named Sweet As range, which has no added sugar or artificial sweeteners, contains less than one gram of impact carbs per serve and is low GI. We love the Rice Crackle and Nutty Crunch flavours.
In general: While it lacks the sugar of regular chocolate, diabetic chocolate is usually loaded with artificial sweeteners, the most common of which can promote diarrhoea.
For you: Meerding recommends that diabetics instead eat small portions (one row maximum) of regular chocolate.
In general: While it sounds healthier than regular chocolate, most carob ‘chocolate’ is laden with sugar and fats in the same way chocolate is to make it hyperpalatable. The base, raw carob bean or powder from the carob plant is healthy, though.
For you: If you’re trying to avoid caffeine or are sensitive to it, carob may give you your fix without making you wired.