The word chocolate has its origins in Latin America and goes back to the Aztec word xocolatl (cacao drink). As the name suggests, this drink was made using cacao beans. It wasn’t until the sixteenth century that cacao was brought to Europe, where it became increasingly popular as a drink served with honey or other sweeteners. It took many years until technology advanced enough to allow for the production of chocolate as we know it today.
In contrast to other types of chocolate, dark chocolate contains a higher percentage of cacao. Some products contain up to 70–85 %, and it is even possible to find dark chocolate that contains almost 100 % cacao. Very few dark chocolates contain milk, and dark chocolate is therefore normally vegan and lactose-free. If you want to avoid soy, look for soy-free, vegan chocolate varieties.
Dark chocolate is also known as plain or black chocolate and contains higher percentages of cacao than milk chocolate. It can be eaten as a snack or used for cooking. It is sold in baking bars that usually have high cocoa percentages ranging from 70 to 100 %.1
Chocolate is sold in chocolate bars, which come in dark chocolate, milk chocolate and white chocolate varieties. Some bars that are mostly chocolate have other ingredients blended into the chocolate, such as nuts, raisins or crisped rice. Chocolate is used as an ingredient in a huge variety of candy bars, which typically contain various confectionary ingredients (e.g., nougat, wafers, caramel, nuts, etc.) which are coated in chocolate. Chocolate is used as a flavouring product in many desserts, such as chocolate cakes, chocolate brownies, chocolate mousse and chocolate chip cookies. Numerous types of candy and snacks contain chocolate, either as a filling (e.g., M&M's) or as a coating (e.g., chocolate-coated raisins or chocolate-coated peanuts). Some non-alcoholic beverages contain chocolate, such as chocolate milk, hot chocolate and chocolate milkshakes. Some alcoholic liqueurs are flavoured with chocolate, such as chocolate liqueur and creme de cacao. Chocolate is a popular flavour of ice cream and pudding, and chocolate sauce is a commonly added as a topping on ice cream sundaes.2
Dark chocolate contains about 170 calories per ounce. The amount of sugar and fat in dark chocolate tends to vary, depending on the amount of sweetener and fat used. In general, 1 ounce of dark chocolate contains about 12 grams of total fat, 7 grams of saturated fat, and 24 grams of sugar. Chocolate should therefore be eaten in moderation, particularly if you’re watching your calorie or sugar intake.
Dark chocolate is a good source of antioxidants, such as polyphenols, and a number of minerals including iron, magnesium, copper, and manganese.
Most dark chocolates that have over 70% cocoa on the market today contain a series of chemicals that interact with cell and tissue components that help protect against the development and effects of certain diseases and illnesses. In cocoa and cocoa products the flavanols that are responsible for the health benefits are referred to as: monomers, epicatechin, and catechin. When consuming high levels of cocoa, evidence shows that flavanols have proven to help lower blood pressure and cholesterol, improve mental "cognitions", and has also been shown to potentially lower the risk of diabetes in some people. Diets that are rich in antioxidants including foods such as cocoa, fruits and vegetables promote better health. They even show signs of potentially delaying the onset of various diseases, including cardiovascular disease (CVD), diabetes, certain cancers, and several other age-related degenerative disorders.1
Cacao products contain theobromine, an alkaloid in the group of stimulants that has a structure similar to that of caffeine. In small amounts, it dilates the vessels, stimulates the heart, and relaxes the smooth musculature. Since theobromine stimulates the nervous system in a manner similar to caffeine, those sensitive should be careful about eating dark chocolate later in the day as it might make it more difficult for them to fall asleep. Alongside the detrimental effects that sugary products can have on teeth, the combination of fat and sugar in chocolate makes us crave it and causes it to have a bit of an addictive nature.
Dark chocolate (also known as black chocolate or plain chocolate) is a form of chocolate which contains a higher percentage of cocoa solids and cocoa butter than milk chocolate, and little to no dairy product. Government and industry standards of what products may be labeled "dark chocolate" vary by country and market.
Dark chocolate contains antioxidants, such as polyphenols, and is relatively low in sugar. It has a reputation as a healthier alternative to other types of chocolate, such as milk chocolate. Dark chocolate has been identified as a potential "superfood". This has helped lead to a global increase in demand for dark chocolate.1
Literature / Sources:
- Wikipedia. Dark chocolate [Internet]. Version dated April 7, 2018 [Quoted April 30, 2018]. Available from: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dark_chocolate
- Wikipedia. Chocolate [Internet]. Version dated April 26, 2018 [Quoted April 30, 2018]. Available from: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chocolate