Dark Chocolate: The 18 Best & Worst Brands
Are you a chocolate lover who simply cannot resist munching on a chocolate bar to satisfy your sweet tooth? Maybe you just crave salty, sweet, or bitter tastes with your favorite chocolate.
Don’t worry – you are not alone.
If you regularly monitor your health and daily caloric intake, you will be delighted to know that there are many health benefits of eating dark chocolate.
Of course, like anything else, it is important to choose only the most healthy ingredients that offer the highest nutritional value.
There are numerous brands that produce dark chocolate and are recognized around the world for their ingredients and distinguished taste.
In fact, certain brands produce chocolate bars made from organic ingredients, providing a socially responsible snacking option. At OwnTheMeal, we’ve decided to take a closer look at the best and worst
When it comes to socially responsible and health-conscious snacking, look no further than these USDA approved chocolates.
Why is Dark Chocolate Good for You?
What makes dark chocolate such an amazing snack is that it is significantly healthier than milk chocolate, which has earned its popularity from its sugar-infused taste.
In fact, dark chocolate contains half the amount of sugar and fat as milk chocolate, and packs in several essential vitamins and minerals that strengthen the body.
Dark chocolate is full of essential fibers, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus and potassium – all things that help you build your strength on the cellular level.
Most importantly, dark chocolate contains a high amount of antioxidants and healthy flavanols from the raw and organic cocoa beans.
A general rule of thumb: the more cocoa beans and flavanols in the dark chocolate, the healthier it is for you.
Additionally, the types of chocolate that have not been processed or undergone “dutching” with alkali are generally the highest in healthy ingredients.
Dark chocolates with a high nutritional value contain between 22.86 to 40.25 mg/g of raw cocoa. According to Dr. Andrew Weil, chocolates that score high on the oxygen radical absorbance capacity scale, or ORAC, are the best for your health.
And finally, dark chocolate with the highest percent of cocoa tend to reap the best health benefits for you.
Health Benefits of Dark Chocolate
According to the Cleveland Clinic, dark chocolate contains three key components that enhance its nutritional value.
The 3 Key Nutritional Components of Dark Chocolate
These components help protect your body from the harmful effects of free radicals, as well as promote vascular health.
More specifically, antioxidants have the ability to lower blood pressure, says Dirk Taubert, MD, PhD, at the University of Cologne, Germany.
In an article published in The Journal of the American Medical Association, results of a study concluded:
Those who ate dark chocolate experienced a significant drop in blood pressure by as much as 5 points for systolic, and 2 points for diastolic.
This occurs because these ingredients prevent inflammation in the body and have the potential to improve insulin sensitivity. This is excellent news for diabetics who need to manage their sugar and carbohydrate intake.
Eating dark chocolate can lower cholesterol and assist those who want to maintain their weight. Now, you can enjoy healthy snacking without having to refrain from indulging in one of your favorite guilty pleasures.
Without further ado, lets dive into the rankings of the top dark chocolate brands:
The Best Dark Chocolate Brands
- 85-99% cocoa beans
This is a very well-known brand that produces chocolates with refreshing and robust flavors to satisfy your chocolate cravings without feeling like you are overindulging.
Their dark chocolate bars are not processed and contain roughly 85% to 99% of cocoa beans. The bars are high in ingredients that support your overall health and well-being.
Green and Black’s
- 70-88% cocoa beans
This company produces chocolates that combine a suite of well-balanced flavors that range from bitter to sweet to meet any taste preference.
Each of their products contains between 70% and 88% of cocoa beans that adds to the joy of snacking without a guilty conscience.
- 70-8% cocoa beans
- 100% organic
This company produces dark chocolate bars that are non-GMO, unrefined and contain minimally processed cocoa beans.
These 100% organic chocolate bars are a healthy choice for snacking and contain between 70% and 87% cocoa beans for a flavorful and enriching experience.
Ghirardelli Intense Dark
- 72-86% cocoa beans
This company makes their dark chocolate bars available at an affordable price while also offering dark chocolate infused with different flavors to lure you in.
You can indulge in their dark chocolate bars that contain between 72% and 86% of cocoa beans.
- 70-85% cocoa beans
- Sources ethically-traded beans
What is not to love about a company that proudly donates 10% of their profits to their different GiveBack Partners at a minimum of $10,000 each?
Each of their products are made from ethically-traded cocoa beans that contain between 70% and 85% cocoa with each delightful and addicting bite.
- 72% cocoa beans
- No alkali in processing
This is probably one of the most popular brands on the market as they produce a wide range of dark chocolate products for you to enjoy.
They do not process their chocolate with alkali and each bar has approximately 72% of cocoa beans so you can rest assured you are snacking smart.
- 70-85% cocoa beans
- Use beans produced by small-scale farmers
A company founded on utilizing organic practices in food production, they offer organic dark chocolate produced from the crops of small-scale farmers.
Each dark chocolate bar contains between 70% and 85% of cocoa beans and offers a high nutritional value so you can enjoy a healthy snack whenever you want to get your chocolate fix.
- 60-80% cocoa beans
- 20 calories per square
- Women-owner company
This is a women-owned company that has a goal of producing and selling all-natural chocolate made of premium organic ingredients for their customers.
Each of their dark chocolate bars contain between 60% and 80% of cocoa beans and about 20 calories per square, which makes it a healthy alternative for you.
- 55-85% cocoa beans
- High in flavanols
This is a brand that prides itself on offering unprocessed chocolate that contains between 55% and 85% of raw cocoa beans, which are among the richest on the market for a reason.
Their organic and non-GMO dark chocolate bars are not only tasty but high in nutritional flavanols that boost your health.
What Makes Dark Chocolate Unhealthy?
On the flip side, not all dark chocolate bars are made the same. When companies process chocolate with other ingredients, they deplete the nutritional value and add to it a varying amount of sugar in each bar.
Specifically, one of the most important things to consider when buying dark chocolate is how rich it is in cocoa beans.
If the chocolate bar has a low amount of cocoa beans, it may not be as healthy for you, or may even contain high amounts of fat and sugar that require more energy to digest.
In addition, dark chocolate that has been made with alkali is generally unhealthy because it reduces the amount of flavanoids and polyphenols that provide most of the health benefits.
Lets look at which companies clocked in on the wrong side of this list – the worst brands of dark chocolate:
The Worst Dark Chocolate Brands
- Cadbury Royal Dark
- Newman’s Own Organics Chocolate
- Russell Stover Dark Chocolate Mint
- Pascha 55% Organic Dark Chocolate
- Dove Silky Smooth Dark Chocolate
- M&M’s Dark Chocolate
- Hershey’s Special Dark
- Lindt Dark Chocolate Truffles
- Milky Way Midnight
Cadbury Royal Dark
- 15g of sugar/ounce
- High in milk fat
The Hershey company claims that their dark chocolate bars are “100% pure semi-sweet chocolate” but do not mention that they are high in other unhealthy ingredients.
Their dark chocolate contains 15 grams of sugar per ounce. Each bar also packs a milk fat and artificial flavor one-two bad-for-you combo.
Newman’s Own Organics Chocolate
- High in fatty acids
- 10g of fat
- 12g of sugar
This brand produces dark chocolate rich in flavor but also high in fatty acids, up to 141 calories, 10 grams of fat and 12 grams of sugar.
They also use thick cocoa butter and soybean oil in their mixture, which have been proven to raise cholesterol levels in your body.
Russell Stover Dark Chocolate Mint
- Contains artificial sweeteners
- High in sugar
This family-owned company is a well-known worldwide manufacturer of premium chocolate that appeases your taste buds but may not be that good for your health.
Essentially, their products contain artificial sweeteners like Splenda and sugar alcohols that disrupt healthy function of your digestive system and lead to weight gain, among other health conditions.
Pascha 55% Organic Dark Chocolate
- High sugar content
- 10.8g of fat
This company produces some dark chocolate bars that are higher in raw cocoa beans, but also high in sugar.
Each dark chocolate bar is approximately 162 calories and contains 10.8 grams of fat, which may not be ideal for those who are health conscious.
Dove Silky Smooth Dark Chocolate
- Made with alkali
- High sugar content
The infamous Dove® Chocolate dark chocolate bars are enjoyable because they are made of rich and tasty chocolate that comes in different flavors or are combined with your favorite berry.
However, these dark chocolate products are made with alkali and contain unhealthy artificial flavors and a high sugar content.
M&M’s Dark Chocolate
- 142 calories
- 6.5g of fat
- 16g of sugar
Although this is one of America’s most favorite chocolate candies, it is actually higher in sugar than it is in cocoa butter, which means its nutritional value is just about negated.
Their dark chocolate bars contain approximately 142 calories, 6.5 grams of fat, 16 grams of sugar, and 19.5 carbohydrates.
Hershey’s Special Dark
- Made with alkali
- 8.2g of fat
- 14.5g of sugar
- 131 calories
Everyone seems to fall in love with Hershey’s Chocolate bars even though they are full of sugar and fat – maybe that is why this brand is so popular.
Their dark chocolate bars are also made with alkali and contain 8.2 grams of fat, 14.5 grams of sugar and 131 calories.
Lindt Dark Chocolate Truffles
- 153 calories
- 12.7g of fat
Although this brand produces dark chocolate bars high in cocoa beans, their truffles are not exactly healthy and contain a high amount of fatty substances.
Their truffles have 153 calories, 12.7 grams of fat and do not contain a high nutritional amount of cocoa beans.
Milky Way Midnight
- 220 calories
- 29g of sugar
- 8g of fat
Who can resist this blend of dark chocolate that appeases your senses with each and every tasty bite?
Unfortunately, this candy bar is made with alkali and contains 220 calories per serving and a whopping 29 grams of sugar and 8 grams of fat.
So, next time you go to eat your favorite dark chocolate indulgence, you know what to look for.
Snack healthier by eating only the best brands of dark chocolate that offer the most healthy ingredients so you know you are getting the best every time.