Currently, America is undergoing a fad known as the health craze. This craze consists of the average person attempting to become as healthy as possible. They strive to do so through making alterations in their diets. For example, many have switched from peanut butter to almond butter; Became vegan; Started using almond milk, instead of regular milk; Or even begun to cook with coconut oil, instead of olive oil. It seems that our society is becoming obsessed with finding that healthier alternative. This health craze is a good thing. It is encouraging causing people to alter their eating habits for the better. With that being said, I decided to research some different substitutions that could be made to increase one’s health. The most interesting alternative I had found was, substituting milk/white chocolate for dark chocolate. It forced me to question if there is a difference between the types of chocolate? It also got me thinking, what makes one type of chocolate healthier than the other?
Let’s start the research by finding out the known benefits of cocoa as a whole. According to this article, cocoa can provide many health benefits. It states that cocoa on its own is an excellent provider of nutrients and antioxidants. A bar rich in cocoa contains high levels of fiber, iron, copper, magnesium, and potassium. It also consists of a large amount of the good type of cholesterol (HDL), which can aid in the reduction of the bad cholesterol (LDL). Chocolate is not all good, though. It comes at the cost of high sugar, bringing us to the point that chocolate must be consumed in moderation for it to be beneficial to one’s health.
Next, we must figure out what makes the three forms of chocolate different from one another. I found an article that pointed out that the classification of chocolate, is distinguished by its ingredients. Dark chocolate has absolutely no milk solids added into it; It consists of 30%-80% cocoa solids. White chocolate has no chocolate in it. It is made up of a byproduct of cocoa plants, called cocoa butter. To reach government standards, milk chocolate must be comprised of 25% cocoa solids, and 22% chocolate liquor, and milk solids.The difference in ingredients is more than likely the mechanism causing the difference in health benefits from one form of chocolate to another. To test this, we must find a study comparing the health results between the different types of chocolate. I searched and found a perfect experiment to test my possible mechanism.
This experiment’s objective was to compare the effects of the consumption of white, and dark chocolate, on a person blood pressure, and insulin sensitivity. 15 healthy subjects were chosen to partake in this experimental, double-blind, placebo study. The study was conducted after each subjected completed a seven day period of not consuming any chocolate. After, the subjects were randomly assigned to eat either 90g of white chocolate or 100g of dark chocolate on a daily basis. They consumed their randomly assigned form of chocolate for 15 days. After those 15 days, they entered another seven-day chocolate-free period. When those seven days were over, each subject was given the alternative form of chocolate. They each consumed that type of chocolate for another 15 days. Blood pressure and insulin readings were conducted after each period, for a total of 4 different blood pressures measurements, and four different insulin readings. The null hypothesis was that eating either white or dark chocolate would show relatively the same blood pressure and insulin readings. The alternative hypothesis is that dark chocolate will show lower readings in blood pressure and insulin sensitivity.
The experiment provided the results that dark chocolate caused a decrease in blood pressure, and improved insulin sensitivity. The readings on blood pressure showed that those who ate dark chocolate had lower blood pressure than those who ate white chocolate. The results brought a P value of roughly .001. This low value means that, more likely than not, the results were not due to chance. With insulin sensitivity, the results showed that dark chocolate provoked a lower HOMA-IR (Assessment of insulin levels) than white chocolate consumers. Its P value was also marked at less than .001. This too showed that the results were not likely due to chance. Even though the experiment had a small experimental size, the results were pretty conclusive. The experiment provided certain results, and changed my views on chocolate consumption.
The most valuable idea to grasp from all of this is that dark chocolate is healthier, but eating an absurd amount of dark chocolate is detrimental. The healthy aspects are only present if consumed in moderation, and if the chocolate is organic with a cocoa percentage greater than 30%. The increased cocoa percentage provides more nutrients and more antioxidants. Not to mention, if the percentage is higher, there is less room for added sugar, cocoa byproducts, or milk solids. So if you have a sugar tooth, and love chocolate, switch to dark and reap the benefits it provides.