I wanted to write this blog because I was amazed at the claims on the packaging of some cacao nibs I bought in Lidl. It was claimed that organic cacao is so healthy it is bascially guilt-free and even calorie free. Yes, apparently so! Read the small print below…
I then compared this to milk chocolate chips and demonstrated that this was certainly not the case, and was in fact HIGHER in calories than the milk chocolate. Madness. See below!
So I reached out the world of Instagram to get people’s thoughts on which is better for 1. weight loss and 2. health. Instagram is great for quick snippets of things but I thougth a blog (as I don’t get chance to write many) would be a good idea.
Anyway, these were the results of my Instagram poll:
So milk chocolate is voted as the better option for both weight loss and health. But is that actually true? The answer is yes and no, with shades of grey (as with everything in nutrition – context!)
Firstly weight loss:
Yes the milk chocolate is better than cacao for weight loss IF the same amount of each is eaten. Calories are the fundamental factor for weight loss and must therefore be in a NEGATIVE ENERGY BALANCE (calorie DEFICIT) to lose weight.
Let’s be fair though, neither milk chocolate or cacao is actually any good for weight loss because they are so high in calories. I mean, come on, 550-650kcal per 100g? How many times have you (and I) sat and worked your way through a big bar of dairy milk?…
However on the flip side, how much dark chocolate can you eat in one go? Dark chocolate 70% cocoa and above is more bitter than milk chocolate and may curb your appetite quicker, meaning you eat less overall. If that helps you to stop eating so much chocolate then perhaps dark chocolate is better for weight loss, even though it’s higher in calories?
So gram for gram, milk chocolate prevails….just!
So which is healthier?
According to the poll, milk chocolate is the healthier of the two.
I’m afraid that is not correct. Just because it is lower in calories does not make it healthier. This is where a lot of confusion comes into nutrition (and believing a lot of the nonsense that is promoted on social media).
Look at the ingredients & nutritional values of each product here:
The cacao nibs are a natural single ingredient with traces of minerals that do offer health benefits, i.e. heart and cardiovascular health, muscle and bone and immune function.
The milk chocolate offers ZERO health benefits. It is heavily processed with minimal cocoa. Anything with sugar as the first ingredient is never good.
So overall, cacao is the healthier option, but consuming large quantities of it which results in weight gain (as with most things), does not create a healthy and balanced diet.
Take home message:
If you want to eat healthier then focus on minimally processed foods, just be careful as some can be very high in calories – just eat less if you’re conscious of your weight. Just because something is healthy doesn’t mean you can eat loads of it.
If you enjoy milk chocolate and are trying to lose weight, then you still can eat it, just have smaller amounts and enjoy it in moderation, as part of a nutritious and balanced diet. This goes with any of your favourite treats, be it alcohol or fried chicken.