Dark chocolate and white chocolate, what are the differences?

[Article updated on 19/09/2023]

“All tastes are in nature”, of course, and this maxim is all the more verifiable when we talk about chocolate. Once a noble product originating from South America, chocolate has evolved over the centuries, ultimately taking on a multitude of shapes, flavors and blends, each more diverse than the last.

Before reading on

I’m not an expert in this field, but I am passionate about nutrition and health.

The articles you’ll find on my site are the result of in-depth research that I’d like to share with you. However, I would like to stress that I am not a health professional and that my advice should in no way replace that of a qualified physician. I’m here to guide you, but it’s important that you consult a professional for specific questions or medical concerns. Your well-being is important. So be sure to consult the appropriate experts and take the best possible care of yourself.

However, there remains a debate that continues, a debate opposing the chocolate dark with white chocolate.

These two chocolates are polar opposites, if only because of their color, their appearance, but also their taste. Dark chocolate, better known and more widespread, will immediately evoke bitterness, and all the strength of a chocolate whose purity fans will praise. Its white counterpart, which has a much sweeter taste, is not unanimous in the world of chocolate, with some not even considering it worthy of such a name.

So where does this difference between these two chocolates come from? Are there any similarities in their composition and nutritionally? And what is the cause of this pronounced difference in taste?

So many questions to which we will try to provide an answer, always with the aim of being able to make the most informed choices possible on a daily basis.

Historical reminders and composition of dark and white chocolates

If recent archaeological studies tend to demonstrate that the use of the cocoa bean dates back more than a millennium BC, it was only from the 16th century and the importation of this product into Europe that We begin to mix the product made from the cocoa bean with milk and sugar, with the aim of reducing the natural bitterness of this exotic product.

Chocolate was served as a drink at the time, and it was not until the 1700s that we began to consume chocolate in its solid form, as we do today. In fact, the use of a mill will allow the extraction of cocoa butter, which allows the chocolate to keep its rigid appearance.

However, we had to wait until 1821 to see the first chewable dark chocolate bar produced by the English company Cadbury.

It was from this moment that the chocolate bar business really took off. Dark chocolate as we know it today therefore comes from a precise mixture of cocoa mass, sugar, and cocoa butter (in greater or lesser quantities). A product can bear the name “chocolate” as long as it is made from at least 35% cocoa (in paste form), but bars containing less are generally very rarely found on the market. 44% cocoa.

Cocoa is the basis for the manufacture of dark chocolate, which contains a very high quantity. And it is this cocoa paste which is at the origin of the divide between dark chocolate and the product that we know under the name of white chocolate.

Indeed, white chocolate is somewhat of a coincidence since it was invented in the 1930s within the Swiss company Nestlé, which was keen to find a use for the surplus cocoa butter that was generated by its production. of chocolate.

White chocolate is then the result of a mixture of cocoa butter added to powdered milk and sugar. White chocolate does not contain a gram of cocoa, and that is the difference with dark chocolate. This is what will give it this whitish color that is not found in any other type of chocolate, and which will also deprive it of the bitterness specific to chocolate.

It is precisely this point that is the subject of debate among chocolate lovers. Indeed, it is difficult for some to consider white chocolate as real chocolate since, by definition, chocolate is characterized by its cocoa content… and white chocolate does not contain any at all!

white chocolate squares

Nutritional comparison between dark chocolate and white chocolate

The nutritional information available on both dark and white chocolate differs depending on the source and this is due to the fact that not all dark chocolate or white chocolate bars are composed of each ingredient in the same proportions. Therefore, this comparison will essentially be based on averages.

Commercial dark chocolate can range between 44% and 100% cocoa, but for this comparison, we will choose dark chocolate with a cocoa content between 70 and 85%.

The macronutrient (and fiber) comparison is shown in the form of the following table:

Nutritional value / 100gDark chocolateWhite chocolate
Of which saturated32g19.6g
Including sugar21g57.1g
Dietary fiber10g0g

Analysis of this table shows us that dark chocolate is more interesting from a purely nutritional point of view. In fact, dark chocolate contains almost 3 times less sugar than white chocolate but is much fattier than the latter. That being said, the proportion of saturated fatty acids for these two types of chocolate is similar since it oscillates around 60% of total fat.

The protein content is equal for these two foods even if their nature is not exactly the same, part of the proteins in white chocolate coming from the milk necessary for its manufacture.

Note that unlike dark chocolate, white chocolate contains absolutely no dietary fiber, which has, among other things, a role in regulating intestinal transit, satiety, and bioavailability of nutrients.

However, it is not so much for its macronutrients that chocolate is nutritionally interesting but for the minerals it contains.

Dark chocolate is first of all an excellent source of magnesium, ideal for bone formation, for the immune system and also for the replication and distribution of DNA. The latter contains 150mg per 100g, knowing that the ANC for a man are 420mg and 360mg for a woman. White chocolate, on the other hand, cannot boast of such an advantage since it only contains 25mg per 100g.

Regarding calcium, dark chocolate is unfortunately a very low source (around 20mg/100g), but this is not the case for white chocolate which contains nearly 250mg per 100g due to the addition of milk at the time. of its manufacture, which therefore makes it an excellent source, conditioned by the presence of 230 mg of phosphorus, which makes the assimilation of calcium almost perfect (Calcium/Phosphorus ratio of 1.1).

Finally, the 3e An important mineral contained in chocolate is potassium since white chocolate contains 350mg per 100g and dark chocolate 700mg, knowing that the ANCs range around 400 to 600mg.

We can conclude by adding that dark chocolate contains flavonoids, a molecule that is part of polyphenols and has antioxidant, anticoagulant, and antidepressant properties. These flavonoids help fight oxidative stress and prevent the development of cardiovascular diseases and cancers.

A very simple way to combine business with pleasure!

French consumption habits

What about French consumption habits? A survey conducted in 2013 by the company LH2 (survey institute) made it possible to know approximately the annual chocolate consumption and the types of chocolates that they were used to buying in our territory.

It seems that in general, dark chocolate is still more consumed than white chocolate since 61% of French people say they consume white chocolate at least once a year, which remains honorable when we know that with regard to dark chocolate, this rate rises to 84%.

However, it is important to emphasize that this consumption is not regular since only 12% of French people consume white chocolate at least once a week compared to 51% for dark chocolate.

In total, each French person consumes on average a little more than 7kg of chocolate per year, all types of chocolate combined, which represents around 20g of chocolate per day, or 2 average-sized squares. A rather reasonable quantity, especially if you take the time to savor each square and keep in mind, as usual, the pleasure of eating as a priority.

And do you prefer dark chocolate or white chocolate?