You’ve already heard about the benefits of dark chocolate – it’s loaded with antioxidants, it may play a small role in lowering your blood pressure and risk of cardiovascular disease – but what exactly makes chocolate dark?
Dark chocolate is a combination of fat, sugar and cocoa, but it’s different from milk chocolate because it doesn’t contain milk solids. Bittersweet and semisweet chocolate are also considered types of dark chocolate.
If you’ve selected a dark chocolate bar from the store, you’ve probably noticed a percentage on the label. It refers to the amount of cocoa content in the chocolate. Typically, chocolate with 70 percent or higher is considered dark. The higher the percentage, the higher concentration of antioxidants and nutrients it contains. A high cocoa percentage can also mean the chocolate is lower in sugar.
Before you select a dark chocolate, familiarize yourself with its ingredients. Here are a few that can affect the quality and taste of the chocolate:
- Sugar – It can sometimes be added to dark chocolate to curb the bitter taste.
- Lecithin – It’s a derivative of soy beans that keeps the chocolate smooth. It’s not necessary in dark chocolate making, but can play a role in texture of the chocolate.
- Milk – Typically, you won’t find milk in dark chocolate.
- Flavorings – These can be added to improve the taste of the dark chocolate.
- Trans Fat – This isn’t often found in dark chocolate, but can be added to increase the shelf life of dark chocolate.