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Dark Chocolate Bar


This is a great question, and we've answered it in a chart in the Cocoas and Dark Chocolates Review. The chart shows the number of calories in popular dark chocolate bars needed to get an equivalent amount of flavanols (200 mg). The results are based on our laboratory tests of these bars -- and they are surprising. They show that, depending on the bar you eat, you may be consuming 3 to 4 times as many calories as you really need to.

Unfortunately, labels typically don't tell you the amount of flavanols in a product, so you can't figure this out on your own. We have found that the % cocoa (or cacao) listed on labels is not a reliable indicator of flavanol concentrations. For example, we found a product claiming "72% cacao" to have more flavanols per gram than one claiming "90% cocoa," and among bars claiming about the same amount of cocoa, one had twice the amount of flavanols as the other.

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January 30, 2020

If you limit yourselves to testing the most popular chocolates, you need to think about popularity being influenced by price. If you test only the cheapest, you are probably not testing the best. I suggest that you test from all price points. My suggestions to test are (1) Scharffenberger semi-sweet bar, Ghirardelli 60% cocoa chocolate chips and chocolate syrups of some sort--Hersheys is the one that seems most commonly used.

July 30, 2018

It's great that you test for the amount of flavanols in dark chocolate. Any chance you could test Alter Eco Super Blackout? It's 90% with very low sugar.
I'm just a consumer--have nothing to do with the company or any other company.
August 8, 2018

Hi Robert - Thank you for the suggestion. We will keep it in mind for future testing.

December 19, 2019

I also would like to see flavanol results for Alter Eco dark bars, and also for Theo 70% chocolate bars. Both Alter Eco and Theo are relatively affordable, and I enjoy eating them.

December 23, 2019

Thank you, ConsumerLab, for analyzing these products!!!
December 23, 2019

Thank you for your kind words, Jennifer! We are glad the review is helpful for you!

October 29, 2017

I have have been enjoying "Lilly's" brrand chocolate for at least five years. It is sweetned with stevia so is great for those who need or want to avoid sugar. There are a variety of bar flavors including an excellent dark choolate. They also make chocolate chips for bakeing. The flavor is very good, in fact in my opinion excellent! I recomend the product.

February 14, 2018

if you read the ingredients list for the Original bar of the Lily's chocolate, the first and second listed sweetener is actually Dextrin and Erythritol, and then way near the bottom of the list after soy lecithin and right before vanilla you find stevia extract.
so by weight, there is more Dextrin and Erythritol and soy lecithin than stevia extract.
now, stevia extract is very powerful so a little goes a long way, but to promote this as a stevia sweetened bar, to me, seems a bit deceptive. More accurately it's a sugar alcohol and stevia extract sweetened bar.
i am sensitive to sugar alcohols so when i ate this bar it caused stomach upset. Stevia does not bother my digestive tract.
February 14, 2018

Hi Bridgitte - Yes, we note in the Review that it includes "non-sugar sweeteners" and, in the Ingredients page of the Review, we list it's ingredients: "Unsweetened Chocolate, Inulin, Dextrin, Erythritol, Cocoa Butter, Milk Fat (rBST Free), Stevia Extract, Organic Soy Lecithin, Vanilla." To re-iterate this, we've also added "Dextrin, erythritol, and stevia extract" in the Notable Features section of the main Review. We've also re-iterated there that Hershey's Special Dark lists "Lactose (milk)" as an ingredient -- for those who are lactose intolerant.

February 15, 2017

Hi Consumerlab, I recently removed soy from my diet and had no idea that most dark chocolate 72% cacoa bars pretty much all have soy lecithin in them or say may contain soy. Is there anyway for you to create a list of chocolate that is soy free??
February 15, 2017

Hi Jill - You can see which of the cocoa and chocolate products we've tested contain soy by viewing the full ingredients for each product, listed on the Ingredients page of the review: However none of the dark chocolate bars currently in the Review (other than a baking chocolate bar) are soy-free.

February 14, 2016


You tested the Hershey's Cocoa Special Dark Bar and gave it a good review as far as toxins. Did you test the same product in the Powdered Cocoa version? If not, will you?

Also, will you or have you tested Rodelle Gourmet Baking Cocoa?

February 18, 2016

Hi Marlin - We have not tested Rodelle Gourmet Baking Cocoa or Hershey's Special Dark Cocoa Powder, but we did test Hershey' s Cocoa Natural Unsweetened -- you can see the results for this product here: Thank you for your requests, we will keep these in mind for future testing.

December 30, 2015

I use Saco Cocoa Powder as it is available in my area. Will you be testing this in the next round of cocoa testing?
December 31, 2015

Hi Linda -- Thank you for your suggestion, we will keep this in mind. Many of the products we test are chosen based on our annual reader survey (which we typically send out in November).

May 31, 2015

I use Rapunzel Organic Cocoa Powder every day to make a chocolate drink, but it is not listed in your chart. Is it healthy? Thanks!
June 9, 2015

Hi Marilyn - We'll be testing Rapunzel Organic Cocoa Powder this year. If you receive our free e-newsletter, you'll be alerted when the results are available.

February 3, 2016

I eat Godiva dark chocolate 72% cacao. It's not listed on your report. Could you please add it to the next report? BTW, how often do you test the same product?

Thank you
March 4, 2016

Hi Orit - Thank you for your suggestion, we will keep it in mind for future testing.

March 12, 2015

I currently have a 5g (.17oz) of Schareen Berger extra dark chocolate every day after dinner. I can not find anywhere the amount of flavonoids in each piece. Can you please help me??

Thank you
March 12, 2015

Hi Ken - Prior to testing dark chocolates, we asked our members which brands they used. Unfortunately, Scharffen Berger Extra Dark Chocolate Bar was not one of most popular products.

Scharffen Berger Extra Dark Chocolate Bar claims to be "82% Cacao." As explained in our report on dark chocolates, this does not necessarily tell you the amount of flavanols -in fact, we found that one popular "85% cacao" bar had only about half the flavanols per gram of a bar claiming "72% cacao." As it is very expensive for us to conduct these tests (which include analyses for flavanols as well as for potential contamination with heavy metals), we must focus on those which are most popular.

You may want to consider one of the bars which we have already tested (all are available nationally) which can give you the taste you want with the most flavanols and the least contamination. You can also see which bars provide the most flavanols with the fewest calories.

January 21, 2015

The Baker's unsweetened product is better for use in baking because it is hard enough to break a tooth, and very bitter. Does anyone agree with this assessment?
As for the Trader Joe's 3-bar pack 72% Cacao Belgian chocolate pictured in the chart, I paid $5.37 for this (have the receipt in my hand). Possibly different prices in various locations.

June 1, 2015

I eat Bakers 100% and find it a bit bitter but I only consume a small amount. The ones I buy are definitely harder than the avg chocolate bar but I try to break them first off by squares then eat them

March 4, 2017

Ann, I can tell you what I do in order to use the Baker's unsweetened bar to make a mug of hot chocolate every morning: I place two squares in the bottom of a ceramic mug and place the mug on an electric mug warmer first thing in the morning. Within twenty minutes, the chocolate is completely melted so then I pour hot milk into the mug and sweeten it with Stevia powder. I also mix in some malted milk powder and homemade vanilla but that's just because I like the taste of those two. Hope that helps.

March 8, 2017

Does Baker's 56% provide the same (but proportionate) benefits?
March 17, 2017

Not necessarily, Stephen. As we have noted, the "% cacao" doesn't tell you the whole story since it doesn't tell you what amount of that is cocoa butter (which is devoid of cocoa flavanols), and it's possible that proportion of cocoa butter differs in the chocolate portion of the different Baker's bars. Nevertheless, your question is a good one and perhaps something we will investigate in our next round of testing. In the meantime, it's interesting to note that the 56% semi-sweet bar which includes sugar has fewer calories than the 100%, which does not contain sugar. The reason is that there is less fat in the semi-sweet, and fat has more calories per gram than sugar.

August 7, 2020

If you expose chocolate to heating, will flavonols be destroyed in it?
August 18, 2020

Heating chocolate does not seem to greatly reduce flavanol levels. "Dutching" chocolate, however, will lower flavanol levels, as discussed in the ConsumerTips section of our Dark Chocolates, Cocoa & Cacao Powders, Nibs, and Supplements Review:

January 21, 2015

We are using Flax seed in our household. Can you rate whether it is better or more/least effective than the oil? Can you then review flax seed products?
Theo Tarantini
January 29, 2015

Hi Theo - This will depend partly on your preference, and your reason for taking flax. Both flaxseed oil and flaxseeds contain the essential omega-3 fatty acid ALA (alpha-linolenic acid), although the oil is a more concentrated form. Flaxseeds additionally provide fiber and phytoestrogens which may have benefits for lowering cholesterol and menopausal symptoms. You can read more about the differences and evidence for each, plus get test results for flaxseed oil products, here:

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