This week, the media was full of reports that the Swiss food giant, Nestle, announcing that it has made a scientific breakthrough that can sharply cut the sugar in its chocolate. The company, which makes Kitkat and Aero, says its researchers have found a way to structure sugar differently, so that it uses 40% less.
It claims this can be done without affecting the taste.
Nestle says it is patenting the findings, and it would start using the new sugar across its range from 2018. Its scientists altered the structure of sugar so that it dissolves more quickly. This fools the taste buds, with the effect of raising the sweetness, claims Nestle.
But is this no more than a bitter sweet pill to swallow? Are the big manufactures just sugar coating the message? Nestle’s announcement, welcome to most people though it is, just got me thinking about what actually goes into a high street bar of chocolate in the first place? For me, it raised more questions than answers.
How much sugar does chocolate actual contain?
Do I as a consumer really know from the ingredients how much sugar actually goes into my chocolate bar at the moment? Is all the sugar ‘natural’ ie from milk in the first place? Why are so many products listed in the ingredients?
All of which led me to try and answer a chocolate conundrum of my own making:
Why not try chocolate with fewer additives in the first place and see if you can taste the difference – less sugar doesn’t necessarily mean less taste. For years, chocolate manufactures have been keeping us sweet. Literally. Add sugar, bulk up on necessary wheat, pour in the fats and stir; anything to make the chocolate stretch further at a time when the average weight and size of a bar has decreased. No wonder my student often ask me if chocolate is gluten free, when one of the bulking ingredient is starch and flour based ingredients.
At the same time, Type 2 Diabetes and teenage obesity levels seem to be on the increase. It is hard to generalise about how much sugar is in chocolate, as it varies from brand to brand. It’s also difficult to taste the chocolate if you have that high content of sugar and other ingredients in the chocolate bar.
Sugar Content in Regular Chocolate Bars
By regular chocolate bar, I mean 100g of basic chocolate bar with no flavouring, toppings or additional ingredients.
Milk Chocolate Bar
Most milk chocolate bars typically include 50% sugar – some of which comes from the milk used.
White chocolate Bar
This depends on the different brands, but the sugar content could be as much as 60% sugar.
Dark Chocolate Bar
The amount of sugar in dark chocolate is highly variable. It can be as much as 40%, but it can have no sugar in it at all, although most people would consider that much too bitter.
Sugar content in chocolate snack bars
The sugar content in chocolate snack bars is much higher than in regular chocolate bars. It’s much healthier to have a few squares of a proper chocolate bar than a chocolate snack bar.
Here are just a few examples of chocolate snack bars with high percentage of sugar:
Standard size Mars Bar contains around 20g of sugar, which is about 70% of the whole weight of the snack bar. This is about 5 teaspoons of sugar, which equals to about 115 Calories (just for the sugar portion alone).
Cadbury Boost bar (standard 50g bar) contains half of it’s weight in sugar (24g).
Most of other Cadbury chocolate bars contain around 50% sugar (Boost, Caramel, Wispa, Flake, Curly Wurly, Chomp, Freddo)
Size isn’t the issue; just check the content. I’m not for a moment blaming anyone for snacking on a bar of chocolate. Enjoy the flavour however it’s made.
What I am saying is that is that as even the average size of high street chocolate bars decreases, it might be time to realise that less ingredients might actually make for better tasting chocolate? If we all going to have to get used to, scarcer resources worldwide, then is it time we all moved towards seeing chocolate and appreciating it as a different type of commodity?
What chocolate has less sugar ?
Anyhow I digress and now your probably want to know what sort of chocolate you should be eating! Choose chocolate with the least content of sugar to suit your taste. You are better off with a few squares of white chocolate bar than eating a whole Mars Bar, but it’s best to stick to dark chocolate if you want to keep your sugar intake low.
Luxurious but cheap chocolate? Now that would keep the marketing man awake at night figuring out how to sell that strap line. After all, chocolate doesn’t have to be full of additives to leave us wanting more, does it? I realise this might not be a message that mass-producing brands find very palatable for their morning marketing meeting?
Here at Cocoa & Heart we’ve long realised that you’re only as good as the chocolate you use. If we tried to make our high-quality chocolate treats by melting down a high street chocolate bar, we wouldn’t get very far, bar none. Too many of those long list of ingredients in small print on the back of the wrapper would render the chocolate pretty useless for anything other than a quick fix.
The plain (dark chocolate, 60% cocoa solids) we use in our Cocoa & Heart Chocolate Courses, typically contains just the following:
Cocoa mass, sugar, cocoa butter, emulsifier, soy lecithin, flavours, vanilla
Less is more and good quality dark chocolate doesn’t have to leave a bitter taste in the mouth or a hole in either your sweet tooth or your wallet.