If you don’t love chocolate, then you’re definitely in the minority.
A food popular since the ancient days of Mexico, it remains a societal treasure to this day.
However, not all chocolate is made the same, and the ‘dark’ variety is where the health benefits lie.
This low carb chocolate guide will show some of the healthiest dark chocolate bars that you can currently buy.
Why is Dark Chocolate Healthy?
For the most part, dark chocolate is healthy because it restricts the amount of sugar and contains much larger amounts of cacao.
While not everybody knows this, cacao is one of the most polyphenol-rich foods in the world (1).
It contains a large number of polyphenols which contribute to fighting oxidative stress and disease in the body.
These polyphenols have been linked to decreased inflammation, reduced cancer risk, and protection against cardiovascular risk (2, 3, 4, 5, 6).
The fact that some bars are virtually sugar-free chocolate also plays a part in the health benefits.
Sugar is one of the most damaging food products in the human diet, and a wealth of studies show the detrimental role it plays in declining health.
Notably, increasing sugar intake raises the risk of cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, dementia, and almost all chronic illnesses (7, 8, 9, 10, 11).
Overall, low carb chocolate has the best of both worlds due to more health-protective compounds and a whole lot less sugar.
For more on the health benefits of dark chocolate, see this article.
Key Point: Dark chocolate is healthy because it maximizes the cocoa content and also minimizes the sugar.
Is Low Sugar Chocolate and Dark Chocolate the Same?
Just a quick note; there is a difference between low carb chocolate and dark chocolate. While there are many dark chocolate brands, not all of them produce the same quality.
In truth, most so-called ‘chocolate’ is a chocolate-flavored bar of sugar. In other words; the amount of sugar vastly outweighs the cacao content.
For example, some commercial chocolate bars declare themselves as ‘dark chocolate’ but in reality, they are more than 50% sugar.
For instance, here is Hershey’s ‘Special Dark Chocolate’:
As can be seen, there is 21g sugar per 41g serving and only 3g fiber. This chocolate is neither real dark chocolate nor anything close to low carb.
In comparison, take a look at the chocolate below from Endangered Species:
As shown above, this dark chocolate has 5g sugar per 43g serving and the fiber content is 6g – an even higher amount than the sugar.
Key Point: Just because a label says it is dark chocolate doesn’t mean it’s healthy. Dark chocolate can either be full of sugar or virtually sugar-free.
The Best Low Carb Chocolate Bars
Listed below are eight of the very best dark chocolate bars, all of which are low in carbs.
The criteria for inclusion was as follows:
- The chocolate should have a minimum of 80% cacao
- Each bar should have minimal ingredients
- All bars should be free of artificial sweeteners
You can see information on the ingredients profile, servings per bar, fat and carb contents.
However, please note that just because the label dictates a certain serving size doesn’t mean you need to follow it.
So, let’s get started….
Serving Size: 42g
Ingredients: Cocoa liquor, cocoa butter, raw cane sugar
Fat: 22g (14g saturated fat)
Total Carbs: 15g (6g sugar, 6g fiber)
For me, Vivani is one of the best dark chocolate bars in the world.
Given the minimal amount of ingredients, the fact that it’s organic, and also the relatively low sugar content; this is one of the healthiest dark chocolate bars.
The taste is also very deep and flavorful. Of course, it’s bitter, but it displays a creamy flavor unusual for a bar of this strength due to the liquor and cocoa buttercombination.
Another key point is the cocoa liquor; should you not know what this is, it’s a little different to the cocoa powder in many bars.
Cocoa liquor is made by roasting the cocoa beans with cocoa butter in their natural ratio. In contrast, manufacturers make cocoa powder from the leftovers of the cacao bean after extracting the cocoa butter (12).
Taste-wise, this results in a smooth texture rather than the powdery feel some dark chocolate bars give you.
Score: 8.5 out of 10 as a result of the minimal ingredients, smooth taste, organic status and reasonable price. All in all, this is one of the best dark chocolate bars.
Serving Size: 40g
Ingredients: Chocolate, cocoa butter, cocoa powder pressed with alkali, sugar, bourbon vanilla beans.
Fat: 22g (13g saturated fat)
Total Carbs: 12g (3g sugar, 5g fiber)
Compared to the Vivani bar, this one has the benefit of a higher cocoa percentage and a smaller amount of sugar. Owing to the minimal sugar, it’s an ideal low carb chocolate bar.
However, the taste doesn’t quite match the Vivani. Despite having a slightly powdery texture, the taste is reasonable, and the vanilla beans bring the bitterness down a notch.
Another thing to remember is that this bar is not organic. Whether or not this matters depends on your opinion, but cocoa is one of the most heavily sprayed food crops in the world (13).
Regarding this point, several studies have shown a large amount of chemical pesticide residues present in chocolate (14, 15, 16).
Score: 7 out of 10. It has a good nutritional profile and reasonable taste, but there are better options for the same money.
Serving Size: 43g
Ingredients: Chocolate liquor, cane sugar, soy lecithin, vanilla
Fat: 20g (11g saturated fat)
Total Carbs: 17g (5g sugar, 6g fiber)
Endangered Species is one of the best dark chocolate brands to support.
The reason for this is that all their products are fair trade, non-GMO, and they donate 10% of their profits. To what? To protect ‘endangered species’ of course!
Similar to the Vivani bar, this also contains cocoa liquor, although it has a slightly higher cocoa content.
As previously mentioned, you don’t have to follow the serving size. Half of the recommended amount (21.5g) and the sugar total comes to 2.5g – definitely low carb chocolate territory.
Overall this is a nice bar, with a rich, earthy chocolate taste and a hint of vanilla too. The only drawback is the slightly smaller size and the fact it isn’t organic.
Score: 7.5 out of 10. Reasonable price and great taste.
Serving Size: 40g
Ingredients: Cocoa liquor, cocoa butter, raw cane sugar, vanilla
Fat: 21g (13g saturated fat)
Total Carbs: 14g (6g sugar, 5g fiber)
As one of the best dark chocolate brands, Alter Eco’s chocolate bars are both organic and fair trade, ensuring the cacao farmers receive fair payment.
Regarding the ingredient profile, you’ll notice this is very similar to the Vivani bar. The only difference is the addition of vanilla, which balances the bitterness a little better.
Despite having a similar price, you are paying slightly more for your money due to the smaller size bar.
Again, I’d recommend cutting the serving size in half as dark chocolate is satisfying in small amounts.
As for the taste, this bar is great; it has a rich and varied taste with lots of different flavor notes. It’s bitter but not intensely so.
On pure taste alone, this is probably my favorite dark chocolate bar.
Score: 8.5 out of 10. A delicious chocolate that is also organic and fair-trade. It’s one of the best dark chocolate bars out there.
Serving Size: 56g
Ingredients: Cacao beans, cane sugar, cacao butter, soy lecithin, milk
Fat: 27g (17g saturated fat)
Total Carbs: 19g (8g sugar, 8g fiber)
Dagoba positions itself as one of the premium dark chocolate brands. Promoted as more of a boutique style chocolate, the price-point of Eclipse represents this supposed higher quality.
Whereas most of the bars listed so far are around the $3 mark, this one is the same – but for only 56g.
But does the quality justify the higher value? For me, the answer is “not really.”
It’s an enjoyable bar, but not superior to the other options – and it even starts tasting a little too dry.
However, the taste is very flavorful and intense, so maybe if you are a true chocolate connoisseur, you might find something in it that I didn’t.
Score: 6.5 out of 10. Supposedly this is one of the best dark chocolate bars. However, for me, it doesn’t justify the additional cost. The taste is good, but not the best.
Serving Size: 30g
Ingredients: Cocoa liquor, sugar, cocoa butter, soy lecithin, vanilla
Fat: 16g (10g saturated fat)
Total Carbs: 10g (4g sugar, 4g fiber)
Despite being 88% cacao, this bar is just as sweet as most 85% bars.
Unlike most of the previous bars, sugar comes before cocoa butter in the ingredients profile. So, although the cocoa content is a little higher, the amount of sugar is similar.
I tried this one for the first time just yesterday, and it’s pretty tasty. At first, there’s a strong intense chocolate taste which is followed by slight coffee flavors.
Overall it’s an enjoyable chocolate bar, but it’s not quite as pleasant tasting as some of the others. Also, it comes at a similar price point despite being non-organic.
Score: 7 out of 10. A nice bar of dark chocolate, but nothing special.
Serving Size: 40g
Ingredients: Chocolate, cocoa butter, cocoa, raw cane sugar, vanilla extract
Fat: 20g (12g saturated fat)
Total Carbs: 15g (8g sugar, 4g fiber)
As the packaging says, this bar is very dark and very smooth, with a slight hint of vanilla.
I’m not exactly sure why, but this dark chocolate is a lot less intense than other 85% bars. In fact, it tastes as though the cacao content should be somewhere in the late 70s range.
Green & Black’s 85% is also one of the healthiest dark chocolate bars; it’s organic and doesn’t use any additives.
The taste is mild and a little creamy tasting, even more so than the Vivani and Alter Eco bars.
Like most 85%+ bars, it’s a low carb chocolate bar, although — for some reason — the fiber content is only half the amount of sugar.
Green & Black’s 85% chocolate is real good, but not quite my favorite.
Score: 8 out of 10. A great dark chocolate with a smooth, creamy taste.
Serving Size: 40g
Ingredients: Chocolate liquor, raw cane sugar, cocoa butter, ground vanilla beans
Fat: 19 g (12g saturated fat)
Total Carbs: 15g (8g sugar, 5g fiber)
This bar tastes great; it’s similar to the Alter Eco dark chocolate, even having the same ingredient profile.
However, it has more sugar and less cocoa butter – hence it is 80% cacao.
If you are well adjusted to the taste of dark chocolate, this tastes sweet.
If you’re in the process of trying to switch from milk chocolate to dark chocolate, then this is a great place to start.
Unlike the other bars, this one also seems to have a stronger vanilla flavor.
The only drawbacks compared to the other bars are the slightly higher sugar content and smaller size.