What do you think? Which one has more calories, white chocolate with 65% sugars milk chocolate with 57% sugars, or dark chocolate with 30% sugars? Hello everybody and welcome back on your friendly neighbourhood chemist’s channel. This is a question I receive many many times during talks on dessert making when I talk about chocolate. They ask me: “Is it true that the bitterer the chocolate, that is with more cocoa and less sugar, the less caloric it is?” The answer is NO! As much as it seem like a paradox, the less sugar there is, the more calories are inside, so 70% dark chocolate at is LESS caloric than 85% dark chocolate. The explanation is quite simple and we just need to read the nutritional label to be convinced of this. Let’s look at the label for white chocolate with 65 grams of sugar it has 532 kcal. Milk chocolate, with 55 grams of sugar, has 539 kcal Let’s now look at 70% dark chocolate, so about 30% is added sugar, here 29 grams, and it has 566 kcal. Whereas this 85% dark chocolate has 11 grams of added sugar and it has 584 kcal, so it is the most caloric of all of them. How come? Well, the answer is quite simple, but first I must explain something else. So, in dark chocolate bars usually – not always, but traditionally this is what they do, although some manufacturers no longer do – they add – beside cocoa, also called “cocoa paste” or “cocoa mass” – cocoa butter, that mostly saturated fat – so mainly stearic acid, palmitic acid – found in cocoa. It is added because otherwise you cannot form a bar. The invention of the chocolate bar like we know it today is not very old it happened a couple of centuries ago, when cocoa butter first arrived in the markets it was separated from cocoa in order to produce what is nowadays called “lean cocoa” the one we use for the drink, right? Hot chocolate and similar stuff. So, cocoa naturally contains cocoa butter, it might have 55% or even more. In the past they were not able to produce a solid chocolate bar simply starting from cocoa, i.e. cocoa paste; they needed this invention, that is adding cocoa butter to be able to shape the modern solid chocolate bar we all know. If you go read the labels of any dark chocolate you have around the house you will often find, together with cocoa, cocoa paste or mass, you will find cocoa butter. This is pure fat. Now it is easy to understand why usually – it is not a mathematical formula – the higher the percentage of cocoa-derived products, among which cocoa butter, the higher the calorie content. Remember that for 1 gram of fat we have 9 kcal while 1 gram of sugar has only 4 kcal, less than half. If I decrease the sugar content, by transitioning slowly from white chocolate up to 99% dark chocolate, for each gram of sugar I remove, corresponding to 4 kcal of energy, I am adding some material that is likely to be more caloric than the sugar I took out, since I am adding much more fat and this explains why chocolate with more cocoa, and consequently with less sugar, has more calories with chocolate that has less sugar but more fat / more cocoa butter, and so we are not surprised to see that white chocolate, the one that is made only from cocoa butter but that has a ton of sugar – indeed I do not like it, I think it is really too sweet – is oddly the less calorie-dense of the bunch. Milk chocolate sits in the middle: for milk chocolate is difficult to apply this reasoning because yes, we are taking out sugar compared to white chocolate, but we are adding milk, that has some sugars, namely lactose. Clearly we are not talking about fresh or liquid milk since you cannot add water to a chocolate bar so these pictures are always misleading. Originally they added condensed milk or powdered milk or stuff like that, so without water. But milk also contains other fats it has sugars and proteins as well so in most cases milk chocolate has less calories (a bit less) than dark chocolate, but it is for the same reason. I am not sure why there is a widespread notion that bitter chocolate means healthier chocolate this is not true. Generally speaking we should say that chocolate is among the food that we should regard as a treat, the right portion would be one square otherwise we are ingesting a LOT of calories and keep in mind that it is mostly made of saturated fats. The saturated fats that we usually encounters in our diet are butter, those found in animal products like (of course) meat, cheese, cocoa butter as well, palm oil and coconut oil coconut oil has more than 90% “saturated fats”. Please remember, and my video ends here, that as with free sugars, the WHO has published an upper bound that we should not normally surpass and this applies to saturated fats, and this is why a label shows the total fat content “of which saturated fats”, because as with all food fats cocoa butter is not completely saturated fat there is no fat that is entirely saturated or entirely unsaturated even olive oil has about 15% saturated fats. Here, for instance, we have 41 grams of fats of which 24 grams are saturated fats, this for a 100 grams bar. The WHO fixes the maximum daily intake of saturated fats to 10% of the calories. For today this is all, ciao from your friendly neighbourhood chemist. Ciao!