Dark Chocolate Or Milk Chocolate


In the Q&A section of my Nutritional Philosophy, I made a comment about chocolate. Since then, there have been a couple of people who have questioned the merits of my statements. I believe that if one person has a question, others likely do as well. Therefore, I would like to clarify a few things on the topic.

To recap my statement, I said: Enjoy it (chocolate) – with a caveat. First of all, cocoa does not come from a bean. It is actually a fruit seed. The problem is not the chocolate, though. The problem is usually the amount of sugar that people mix with it. However, sugar is not required to enjoy chocolate. In fact, plenty of other sweeteners can be used that adhere to this approach. Monk Fruit Sweetener is a great example. Coconut sugar might be another. I am also a fan of honey-sweetened chocolate. If you can figure out a way to enjoy chocolate that does not require refined sugar, then fine. I avoid refined sugar and milk chocolate options, sticking to dark chocolate (without refined sugar), and using fruit-based sweeteners or honey.

There are several reasons why I point to dark chocolate specifically. Overall, it is generally considered to be healthier than milk chocolate for a number of reasons. However, there are actually quite a few health benefits that come with its consumption. Here are some key points to consider:

Dark chocolate is higher in cocoa solids: It is made with cocoa solids and cocoa butter, not milk and sugar typically found in milk chocolate. Cocoa solids are the fermented, dried, and ground seeds of the cocoa tree. The higher cocoa content means that it is generally higher in antioxidants and other beneficial compounds.

Dark chocolate is lower in sugar: It is generally lower in sugar than milk chocolate, which makes it a slightly better choice for people who are trying to reduce their sugar intake. Moreover, dark chocolate products containing fruit-based sweeteners are more readily available.

Dark chocolate has less fat: Milk chocolate is made with milk, which adds fat. Dark chocolate, on the other hand, is made with cocoa butter, which is a type of fat that is found naturally in cocoa beans. As a result, it generally has less fat than milk chocolate.

Dark chocolate has a number of health benefits: Cocoa polyphenols have a two-way interaction with our gut microbiota. These compounds act as prebiotics, promoting the growth of beneficial bacteria like Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium while reducing the number of harmful bacteria like Clostridium perfringens. Similarly, the active compounds produced when we metabolize cocoa have some amazing benefits for our health. It can help reduce inflammation, boost our immune system, and even lower the risk of different diseases. In fact, some research suggests that it may even improve heart health and brain function and reduce stress.

High in antioxidants: It is a good source of antioxidants, which are compounds that can help to protect cells from damage caused by free radicals. The specific types of antioxidants are called flavonoids, which are known for their potential health benefits.

May help to improve heart health: As mentioned, some research suggests that it may have a number of potential benefits for heart health. It may help to reduce the risk of heart disease by lowering blood pressure, improving cholesterol levels, and reducing inflammation.

May improve brain function: The flavonoids I spoke of earlier are known to have a positive effect on brain function. Some research suggests that they may help to improve cognitive performance and may have a protective effect against age-related cognitive decline.

May help to reduce stress: It contains a compound called theobromine, which has been shown to have a calming effect on the body. Specifically, it may help to reduce stress and improve mood.

May help to improve skin health: The antioxidants may also be beneficial for skin health. Some research suggests that they may help to protect the skin from damage caused by the sun and may also improve skin hydration.

The list goes on, but you probably get the point. Overall, dark chocolate can be enjoyed in moderation as part of a healthy diet and without guilt. There are quite a few benefits, and this is especially true if the sweetener used aligns with our omnivore diet and the ones that come from the various fruits that our bodies already know how to use. An example here might be Hu Chocolate Bars, but there are plenty of others.


Dr. Robertson is a health researcher and educator, not a physician. The information provided here is not medical advice, a professional diagnosis, opinion, treatment, or service to you or any other individual. The information provided is for educational and anecdotal purposes only and is not a substitute for medical or professional care. You should not use the information in place of a visit, call consultation, or the advice of your physician or other healthcare providers. Dr. Robertson is not liable or responsible for any advice, course of treatment, diagnosis, or additional information, services, or product you obtain or utilize. IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY, YOU SHOULD IMMEDIATELY CALL 911 OR YOUR PHYSICIAN.