Nutrition Facts for Cocoa and Chocolate

There have been many studies linking cocoa and dark chocolate with health benefits. Cocoa and chocolate contain a large amount of antioxidants (flavinoids). Cocoa and dark chocolate may keep high blood pressure down and reduce the blood's ability to clot, thus the risk of stroke and heart attacks may be reduced. The darker chocolate with the most concentrated cocoa will be the most beneficial. According to an Italian study, a small square (20 g) of dark (bittersweet) chocolate every three days is the ideal dose for cardiovascular benefits. Eating more does not provide additional benefits.

The nutrition values presented below are based on review of a selection of brands. Variations outside the given ranges can be expected. Numbers are % by weight, not % of daily value.

Ingredient Cocoa - low fat
(European type)
Cocoa - high fat
(Breakfast cocoa)
Unsweetened chocolate Bittersweet chocolate Semisweet chocolate and baking chocolate
Fat 10-15% 20-25% 45-55% 33-45% 20-35%
Carbohydrates 45-60% 45-60% 30-35% 20-50% 50-70%
Sugars 0-2% 0-2% 0-2% 13-45% 45-65%
Dietary fibers 20-35% 30-35% 15-20% 5-8% 3-8%
Protein 17-22% 15-20% 10-15% 5-10% 3-8%
Calories per oz ca 60 ca 90 140-150 150-160 130-160
Calories per 100 g ca 200 ca 300 470-500 500-550 450-550

Fat

Cocoa beans contain approximately 50% fat. It is primarily comprised of two saturated fatty acids (palmitic and stearic acids) and one mono-unsaturated acid (oleic acid). Cocoa butter and chocolate do not raise blood cholesterol. However, when consuming milk chocolate or lower grade chocolate where a part of the total fat content comes from milk fat or various other types of fat, the cholesterol level might be adversely affected.

Sugar

The cacao bean contains quite a lot of carbohydrates, but most of it is starch, soluble dietary fibers, and insoluble dietary fibers. A very small proportion is simple sugars. Sugar is added during the manufacture of chocolate.

Antioxidants

Cocoa beans contain polyphenols (similar to those found in wine) with antioxidant properties which are health beneficial. These compounds are called flavonoids and include catechins, epicatechins, and procyandins. The antioxidant flavinoids are found in the nonfat portions of the cocoa bean. The flavinoids also reduce the blood's ability to clot and thus reduces the risk of stroke and heart attacks.

Theobromine

Theobromine is a very mild stimulant with a mild diuretic action (increases the production of urine). Theobromine can be toxic to animals like dogs, cats, parrots and horses.

Caffeine

Cocoa beans contains a very low amount of caffeine, much less than found in coffee, tea and cola drinks.

Phenylethylamine

Phenylethylamine is a slight antidepressant and stimulant similar to the body's own dopamine and adrenaline.

Serotonine

Cocoa and chocolate can increase the level of serotonine in the brain. Serotonine levels are often decreased in people with depression and in those experiencing PMS symptoms.

Essential minerals

Cocoa beans are rich in a number of essential minerals, including magnesium, calcium, iron, zinc, copper, potassium and manganese.

Vitamins

A, B1, B2, B3, C, E and pantothenic acid.

Is chocolate fattening?

Yes, chocolate is fattening. Even dark chocolate contains a lot of calories because of the large content of fat and sugar. The sugar content in chocolate is worse than the fat content regarding negative effects on health.


More information about health benefits and nutrients in chocolate can be found at:
International Cocoa Organization
Nutrients in Chocolate Explained
Polyphenols
Chocolate's Potential Health Benefits
Chocolate & Cocoa: 'Healthy' Benefits or Negative Health Effects?
Eating dark chocolate reduces CRP
 
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