Nutritionist Dr. Danny: Dark Chocolate Truths

By Daniel Rosenfeld
You’ve heard it before: dark chocolate is healthful. But have you ever wondered why? How can something that tastes so good still be nutritious? It must be too good to be true, right?
Incredibly, a four-square serving of Lindt 85 percent cocoa has more fiber than an apple and more protein than half a cup of milk! Dark chocolate also contains flavenoids and antioxidants, powerful nutrients that lower blood pressure, lower cholesterol, and stabilize blood sugar, all of which reduce the risk of developing heart disease or having a stroke later on in life.
Here’s the catch: not all dark chocolate is alike. Dark chocolate is characterized by a cocoa content of greater than 35 percent. Although classified as dark, chocolates with cocoa percentages between 35 and 70 almost always contain a large amount of sugar and a few healthful nutrients. These “dark” chocolates are not good for you!
Most health experts recommend eating chocolates of at least 70 percent cocoa; a higher percentage means less sugar and more nutrients. Four popular types of bars are the Lindt 70 percent, Lindt 85 percent, Ghirardelli 86 percent, and Lindt 90 percent. To maximize chocolate’s benefits, have between one and four squares – 10 to 40 grams – per day.
Although dark chocolate is low in sugar, it’s still loaded with that bad, artery-clogging saturated fat, right? Yes, but not all saturated fats are created equal. There are four main types of saturated fat: stearic acid, lauric acid, palmitic acid, and myristic acid. Each saturated fatty acid has its own unique effects on the body. Stearic acid, the main type of saturated fat found in dark chocolate, is considered a healthful fat, as it doesn’t increase cholesterol levels.
If you’re feeling adventurous – or if you’re just plain curious about what pure cocoa tastes like – go for the Lindt 99 percent cocoa. Good luck eating more than one bite!