Survive the Holidays With Healthy Chocolate

iStock_000017722904XSmallWith the holidays here, there will be plenty of chocolates floating around and it may be a challenge to enjoy this delicious treat and not sabotage your efforts to control your blood sugars.  Many people go into the holiday season telling themselves they will just SKIP chocolate (or other treats).  Unfortunately, there is something about the word “NO” that makes us want to eat that food even MORE!  Instead of  thinking “NO” and denying yourself,  think  “REPLACE.”  By finding a healthier option, you can still enjoy the delicious flavor of chocolate and keep on track with your health goals.

So what chocolates are the healthiest option? 

Let’s look at a popular milk chocolate bar, the Hershey Milk Chocolate Bar.  The amount of sugar per serving is 24g!! If you are an adult woman, the American Heart Association recommends 24g of ADDED sugar (not from fruit) per day.  If you are an adult male, it is 36g per day.  The recommended amount for children is  12g per day.  That means if you have this Hershey Bar, you just met your daily recommended amount!

So what about the “sugar free” chocolate bars?

Sugar free chocolate contains chemicals to make the chocolate taste sweet.  But here is the breakdown of what those chemicals actually are:

MALTITOL – A sugar alcohol with a relatively high glycemic index

POLYGLUCITOL – A blend of several sugar alcohols (a bulking agent) derived from corn

MALTODEXTRIN – grain starch, primarily corn or rice starch. It can also come from wheat and potatoes.

Even though the sugar content is “zero,” keep in mind that these sugar alcohols are synthetic chemicals and even if you are not worried about your blood sugars, ask yourself if you REALLY want to eat these chemicals.

So, what about organic?

That would solve the chemical issue.  Do organic chocolates have less sugar?  I took a look at Newman’s Own Organic Chocolate.  If you take the word “Organic” out of the ingredients list, you are still left with sugar. And get this, one bar of Newman’s Own Organic Milk Chocolate Bar (64g) has 33g of sugar!  This is more than the popular Milk Chocolate bar!

This is quite frustrating because it is misleading.  It may be true that organic chocolate bars are healthier because you do not have the chemicals like in the sugar free products.  However,  it is NOT healthier in terms of sugar content.

How about dark chocolate?

I  compared a Hershey’s Bliss Dark Chocolate with Ghirardelli Intense Dark 72% Cacao bar.

The Hershey’s Dark chocolate bar has 20g of sugar per serving. GREAT!  So this is LESS sugar than the milk chocolate.  But be careful because a serving is 6 pieces.  A package contains 42 pieces or 7 servings .  So that means if you eat the whole bag, you consumed  20g x 7 = 140g of sugar!!

On the other hand, the Ghirardelli Intense Dark 72% Cacao chocolate looks like a better option.   You can have 3 squares (one serving) which contains only 10g of sugar.  But once again, you do not want to eat the whole bar, because then you will have consumed a little over 20 grams of sugar.

So, what is your best option?

Choose dark chocolate with cocoa content of 65 percent or higher. Limit yourself to around 3 ounces (85 grams) a day, which is the amount some studies have shown to be helpful. Because this amount may provide up to 450 calories, you may want to cut calories in other areas or step up the exercise to compensate.

Written by: Donna Rock, AADP Certified Health Coach


About the Author:

Donna Rock is a Health Coach graduate of the Institute for Integrative Nutrition. Donna is also certified by the American Association of Drugless Practitioners. This prestigious certification is for individuals who have been trained by only the most qualified educational programs in the area of Holistic Nutrition and Holistic Health. Visit her website at or follow her on Facebook at

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