Calories in Dark Chocolate

There are plenty of calories in dark chocolate, just as there are in other forms of chocolate.  No chocolate can really be considered low calorie, but it is possible to find lower calorie formulations such as lower calorie packaging (smaller sizes).  We all must recognize that dark chocolate is high calorie, so we must eat it in moderation.

Just How Many Calories?

Hershey's dark kisses
Photo by cinciann, under license
Dark kisses:  4.39 calories/gram
5 dark kisses is 100 calories
 

So how do the calories in dark chocolate actually compare with the calories in milk chocolate or white chocolate?  Since there are so many manufacturers, producing so many different chocolate products, it's just not possible to assign a calorie value to dark, milk, and white chocolate.

In general, we would expect fewer calories in dark chocolate, milk chocolate to have more, and white chocolate to have the most calories.  Why?  Because the darker the chocolate, the higher the percentage of raw cocoa and the fewer other ingredients, like sugar.

Hershey kisses
Photo by Alex O under license
Milk kisses:  5.61 calories/gram

If we compare food labels, this general rule does appear to basically hold true, especially when comparing chocolates of the same manufacturer.  For example, food labels show that Hershey's dark kisses have 4.39 calories per gram, while Hershey's milk kisses are 5.61 calories per gram.

A quick look at the products of a few other manufacturers shows a good amount of variation, but in general there are a little bit fewer calories in dark chocolate than in milk chocolate.  But it is possible to find a dark chocolate with more calories than a milk chocolate.  Just look at the Hershey's milk chocolate and the Lindt Excellence in this example:

  • Hershey's dark kisses:  4.39 calories per gram
  • Ghirardelli dark chocolate squares:  5.12 calories per gram
  • Dove dark chocolate pieces:  5.25 calories per gram
  • Hershey's milk chocolate:  5.35 calories per gram
  • Lindt Excellence (dark):  5.5 calories per gram
  • Hershey's milk chocolate kisses:  5.61 calories per gram
Hershey's milk chocolate
Photo by Andy Melton under license
Hershey's milk chocolate:
5.35 calories/gram
 
Lindt dark chocolate
Photo by F0t0Synth under license
Lindt Excellence (dark):
5.5 calories/gram
 

A Little Survey of Calories in Dark Chocolate

So I looked through the various dark chocolates you can find throughout this site, and for many of them I figured out the calories per gram.  Some of the other items I could not determine calories per gram.  For some of these, I don't have the nutritional information.  Others list a serving size with things like "3 squares".  I can't do anything with that.  Please contact me if you can determine calories per serving, and serving size by weight, of any products that appear on this web site but not in the chart below.  Send me web links, or a scanned nutritional label, to verify.  I'll give you credit in the chart for any items you figure out.

Have a look.  If you want to see more detail on any of these items, follow the links.

Calories per Gram            Dark Chocolate Product

4.02

After Eights

4.21

Lake Champlain Five Star Fruit and Nut Bar

4.25

Hershey's Extra Dark with Pomegranate

4.39

Hershey's Special Dark

4.47

Scharffen Berger Mocha

4.59

Hershey's Extra Dark

4.59

Hershey's Extra Dark with Cranberries, Blueberries, and Almonds

4.67

Ghirardelli Dark Chocoalte with White Mint Filling

4.73

Dagoba Mint

4.75

Ghirardelli Mint Bliss

4.75

Lindt Intense Mint

4.75

Lindt Intense Pear

4.80

Cadbury Old Jamaica Rum n Raisin

4.86

Lake Champlain Rum Caramel

4.88

Hershey's Bliss Dark Chocolate

4.89

Ghirardelli Dark Chocolate Caramel Squares

5.00

Ghirardelli 60% Intense Dark Citrus Sunset

5.00

Ghirardelli Toffee Interlude

5.00

Ghirardelli Intense Dark Espresso Escape

5.04

Valrhona Araguani Les Feves

5.10

Traidcraft Swiss Dark Chocolate with Peppermint Crisp

5.12

Endangered Species Rainforest Dark Chocolate and Deep Forest Mint

5.14

Valrhona Manjari

5.14

Valrhona Caraibe

5.15

Valor Dark Chocolate with Mint

5.25

Lindt Intense Orange

5.25

Valrhona Manjari with Orange

5.29

Newman's Own Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups

5.33

Chocolove Cherries & Almonds in Dark Chocolate Bar

5.35

Godiva Solid Dark Bars

5.40

Divine Mint Dark Chocolate Bar

5.45

Organica Swiss Dark Chocolate and Mint Crisp

5.50

Valrhona Caraibe Noisette

5.50

Valrhona Guanaja

5.53

Ghirardelli Dark & Mint

5.71

Santander Dark Chocolate Espresso Coffee Mini Bars

5.75

Seeds of Change Cranberry Pecan Bar

6.00

Godiva Dark Chocolate With Almonds Bar

8.80

Alter Eco Dark Chocolate Mint

Does This Difference Matter?

You may be wondering if the generally lower calories in dark chocolate compared to other chocolate is significant.  Is  4.39 calories per gram of Hershey's dark kisses significantly better than 5.61 calories per gram of Hershey's milk chocolate kisses?  Sorry, but the answer is "no".  When compared to fruits and vegetables, which come in at less than 1 calorie per gram, all chocolate is high calorie, and the difference between 4.39 and 5.61 calories per gram isn't very significant.

For example, look at the calories per gram for some fruits and vegatables:

  • Apple:  0.44 - 0.56 calories/gram
  • Banana:  0.65 - 0.95 calories/gram
  • Blackberries:  0.25 calories/gram
  • Cherries:  0.50 - 0.70 calories/gram
  • Grapes:  0.62 calories/gram
  • Orange:  0.30 - 0.53 calories/gram
  • Peach:  0.30 - 0.50 calories/gram
  • Cucumber:  0.10 calories/gram
  • Broccoli:  0.25 calories/gram
  • Carrots:  0.48 calories/gram
  • Cauliflower:  0.30 calories/gram
  • Tomatoes:  0.21 calories/gram

Lean meat is also relatively low calorie.  Whether stewed or fried (without skin), chicken white meat comes out at less than 2 calories per gram:

  • Stewed, 1.51
  • Fried, 1.61
  • Roasted, 1.65
Here are a handful of different kinds of cheese, between 2.5 and 4.5 calories per gram.
  • Part Skim Mozzarella, 2.54
  • Feta, 2.64
  • Provolone, 3.51
  • Swiss, 3.80
  • Chedder, 4.03
  • Grated Parmesan, 4.31

And here are the calories per gram for some nuts:

  • Cashews, 5.51
  • Pistachio Nuts, 5.57
  • Almonds, 5.64
  • Peanuts, 5.67
  • Sunflower Seeds, 5.85
  • Peanut Butter, 5.88
  • Hazelnuts, 6
  • Walnuts, 6.55
  • Pecan, 6.91
  • Macadamia Nuts, 7.18

So the calories in dark chocolate (and all chocolate), are between the upper end of cheese, and the lower end of nuts, in calories per gram.  Each of these can be good for you, but in moderation, right?  

Calorie Chart
Calories per gram

Now What?

Dark chocolate can be healthy
Dark chocolate can be healthy
 

All of us who love dark chocolate must simply agree that we eat dark chocolate for pleasure, as a dessert, as a treat.  To be healthy about it, we must recognize the calories in dark chocolate, and eat small portions.  And, while we can achieve some health benefits from modest amounts of dark chocolate in a well balanced diet, dark chocolate is not snack food, and it is not low calorie.

Restricted Calorie Portion Size
Dove dark chocolate pieces
Photo by dramafreeyukari under license
Dove dark chocolate:
2 pieces is 84 calories
 

If you are very disciplined, you may already be fairly good at restricting the size of your dark chocolate dessert.  Let's say you wanted your dark chocolate calories to come out to around 100.  Do you know that this is five Hershey's Kisses (dark)?  Or that two Dove dark chocolate pieces is 84 calories?  Or that two Ghirardelli dark chocolate squares is 110 calories?

100 calorie packages
Photo by Jason Tester under license
Look for 100 calorie dark chocolate packaging
 

But, sometimes it's difficult to figure out how small a portion you should have, or it's difficult to be disciplined when the whole bar is already there, and already unwrapped, right?

So some manufacturers, such as Hershey's, Trader Joe's, Cadbury's, and others, have produced lower calorie packaging.


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