Lately it has become fashionable for chocolate packaging to show, in very large letters, the percentage of cocoa they contain.
The chocolate that we drink now is very different from the dark chocolate that was consumed hundreds, even thousands of years ago.
Now cocoa is mixed with sugar, milk, nuts, colorants and other ingredients. That makes us think that a chocolate with 80% cocoa is healthier than one with 40%, because it will contain less sugar, milk, and other contents.
But the truth is that … no. As explained in Greatist nutritionist Megan Guiller, who has written books about chocolate, the percentage of cocoa does not indicate that the chocolate is more or less healthy, or more or less caloric. We’ll see what they haven’t told you about the percentage of cocoa in chocolate.
The key to the matter is that many people think that all cocoa is the same, and it is not.
Cocoa beans contain abundant fat, and depending on the origin of the cocoa or the type of chocolate, this percentage changes.
To make chocolate, cocoa beans are manipulated until two different products are obtained: the cocoa mass, and cocoa butter. The problem is that the labels tell us the percentage of cocoa that the chocolate has, but they do not tell us what percentage is dough, and what percentage is butter.
So, for example, a chocolate bar with 80% cocoa can have 40% mass and 40% butter. On the other hand, another bar with 70% cocoa can have 50% mass and 20% butter.
Nutritionally the 70% cocoa will be healthier, because it has much less butter (fats).
To further complicate matters, according to nutritionist Megan Guiller, all cocoa beans are not the same. There are several varieties and some have different types of vegetable fat, which are more or less healthy.
What do we have to do then? Do not stay in the percentage of cocoa. See also the small print on the label, where is the list of ingredients, and check the amount of cocoa butter and sugar in it. That is what will give us the nutritional value of chocolate.
The lower those values, the better, although the chocolate it will be less creamy and more bitter.