Chocolate has become such a universal treat that it’s hard to imagine what the world would be like without it. Chocolate flavors everything from drinks to desserts to even hummus these days! It is an essential component of some of the world’s biggest holiday celebrations like Valentine’s Day and Easter, and it is a common pick me up when you have a craving for something sweet.
Chocolate has taken on a life of its own, and there are reasons why it is so beloved: it’s simple, nostalgic and just plain delicious. I think we can all agree on that.
But there is one area of debate around chocolate where people disagree: the battle between dark chocolate vs white chocolate. Many people are staunchly in one camp or the other. Now, we might not ever come to common ground on this debate — the heart wants what the heart wants. But we can take an unbiased, objective look at the differences between dark chocolate vs white chocolate from a scientific point of view. This may not change anyone’s opinion, but it may give them some clout if the debate arises again.
Dark and white chocolate are fundamentally different from each other because of the ingredients used. Whereas dark and milk chocolate are still in the same family, white chocolate is something altogether different.
Dark Chocolate Ingredients
Dark chocolate is made with cocoa butter, cocoa solids and sugar. Simple, pure, delicious. The higher the proportion of cocoa solids, the higher the percentage you will see on the packaging — 70% dark chocolate, for example — and the more bitter it will be. Over the last number of years, dark chocolate has come to represent luxury and refinement and it is taken on a personality of its own. While of course people from all over enjoy dark chocolate, it is not sweet like traditional candy flavor profiles and you can often find it in pricey shops or even health food stores (more on that later).
Milk Chocolate Ingredients
Milk chocolate, which we all know and love, takes the same ingredients (with different proportions) and includes milk products.
White Chocolate Ingredients
White chocolate, however, is made with only cocoa butter, sugar and milk solids. There are no other cocoa solids or powder. So technically, objectively speaking, some people make the argument that white chocolate is not really chocolate at all. It is, however, sweet, creamy and has a similar familiarity like other types of chocolate and people who love it, LOVE it.
Chocolate seems to pop up in the news every so often with scientific claims that it is beneficial for one’s health. So let’s take a look to see if there is a winner between dark chocolate vs white chocolate in terms of health and well-being.
White Chocolate Nutrition
Let’s start this round with white chocolate. When speaking of calories bite for bite, white chocolate generally contains more. White chocolate contains around 80 calories per teaspoon, compared to around 70 calories for the same quantity of dark chocolate. But they are comparable in terms of protein (1 gram), sugar (8 to 9 grams) and fat (4.5 grams). Thanks to the milk solids in white chocolate, it contains a small amount of calcium per bite, while dark chocolate gives a little boost of dietary iron.
There’s not really a clear winner. However, there are bigger differences when it comes to other health-related factors, with dark chocolate showing up in some very big ways.
Dark Chocolate Nutrition
For example, the cocoa that comprises dark chocolate is rich in antioxidants. It also provides benefits for the cardiovascular system as it can reduce inflammation throughout the body.
There are other benefits, too, that come from including dark chocolate in your diet. Studies have shown that it protects the body’s largest organ — the skin — from external damage, and that it can improve the brain’s functioning as well as a person’s mood.
Eating chocolate — dark or white, can boost serotonin in the brain, helping create or enhance a state of happiness. But dark chocolate has other powers. It can help lower hormone levels that are the source of anxiety and emotional stress.
White chocolate, unfortunately, does not have the same benefits, since it does not contain any cacao. However, one benefit to it if you are craving a sweet treat is that it also doesn’t contain any caffeine either. Caffeine can definitely be a drawback to eating dark chocolate, especially in the evening or at night.
So while there can be benefits to consuming dark chocolate, it is also prudent to remember that both dark and white chocolate are fairly high in calories and fat. They should be thought of as an occasional treat rather than a staple and they should enhance an already balanced and healthy lifestyle that includes sleep, self care and plenty of whole and fresh foods.
Dark Chocolate vs White Chocolate: The Winner
In terms of health benefits, it’s pretty clear that dark chocolate beats out white chocolate. In fact, some people even argue that white chocolate doesn’t even belong in the debate.
What’s really important though is that it’s good to treat yourself with something you love every now and again. Moderation is a great guiding principle when it comes to including treats into your diet. Even if you are on a restrictive plan, it’s ok to bring some joy into your life with chocolate. The idea is that you enjoy it though, take the time to savor it and let that serotonin give you a break from your stress and worry.
And at the end of the day, it’s hard to argue with personal preference. So if you like dark chocolate, great. If white chocolate is more your speed, that’s wonderful. As long as you are taking a break to enjoy something delicious, there’s no need to explain.