Dark Chocolate: The Best and Worst Brands

healthy dark chocolate brands

2019 Edition

Hey chocolate lovers, this guide is continually updated. What we’ve noticed since first publishing 5 years ago is that there is an ever-increasing variety of dark chocolate out there. And… disappointingly it has become very difficult to find which manufacturers are using the dutch process (see below).

Dark chocolate: once considered a rare treat is now mainstream. It’s become the snack of choice for healthy eaters.

For good reason. It feels decadent, tastes great, and has researched health benefits (1) (2) (3). One small study showed participants ate less junk food after eating dark chocolate. This did not happen with milk chocolate. Another small study showed food intake following dark chocolate consumption was significantly lower than when eating milk or white chocolate (ref).

Even exercise capacity is increased when consuming dark chocolate!

There’s something about dark chocolate that makes me carefully indulge in a piece or two. Compared to milk chocolate when I would eat half a pack before I knew it.

Traits of a Healthy Dark Chocolate

When choosing a healthy dark chocolate for eating, here are the qualities to look for in a healthy bar.

  • High cacao content
  • Low sugar content
  • Few additives and overall ingredients
  • No added flavor
  • No preservatives
  • Not “Dutched” or processed with alkali
  • Processed at a low temperature.

The Flavanols

Research points to flavanols – a type of polyphenol in cocoa that helps lower blood pressure and improve vascular function, improve cognitive function, and even provides UV protection for our skin. Note there are many counter-arguments to this research (see more).

Dark chocolate has a higher proportion of flavanols than milk chocolate.

A higher percentage of cacao (cocoa) means a higher amount of flavanols.

Warning: Lookout for Dutching

The method used to process the raw cacao bean can affect the amount of flavanols in the end product.

If your chocolate says “processed with alkali” on the nutrition label, then it’s going to have fewer flavanols (more). Processing with alkali is called “Dutching“.

Marketing labels

Many chocolates are tagged with all kinds of marketing words. Artisan, hand-crafted, fine chocolate. These are opinions and cannot be tested. Some chocolates are labeled gluten-free – which is odd as chocolate never contained gluten.

Healthy Dark Chocolate Brands

Pascha

Organic, fair trade, non-GMO dark chocolate. No soy lecithin. Range of 55%-85%

paschachocolate.com

(Discounted at Amazon)

Endangered Species

72% Cacao and 88% Cacao bars (panther). Also a 70% organic bar.

Ethically traded cacao. A social enterprise with a great theme focusing on endangered animals.

www.chocolatebar.com

Discounted at Amazon

alterecoAlter Eco

USDA Organic and Fair Trade. Range of dark chocolate. Look for 85% Dark Blackout or 90% Super Dark.

www.alterecofoods.com

(Discounted at Amazon)

Taza

80%, 87%, and 95% cacao bars.

Taza is probably the least-processed chocolate you can find. THE USDA organic chocolate combines just cocoa beans and sugar.

www.tazachocolate.com

Discounted at Amazon.

Green & Blacks

70% Cacao and 85% Cacao bars. Organic and sometimes fair trade (e.g. Maya Gold).

The 70% includes Soy Lecithin – the 85% does not. There are no genetically modified ingredients.

www.greenandblacks.co.uk

Discounted at Amazon.

Lindt

The Lindt Excellence range includes 70%, 78%, 85%, 90%, and 99% Cacao bars.

NOTE: Each bar has a different ingredients list. Here are ingredients as at 2018 (as sold in the US). The 85% is the best choice.

70% – Chocolate, sugar, cocoa butter, soya lecithin (emulsifier), bourbon vanilla beans.
78% – Chocolate, cocoa butter, sugar, fat-reduced cocoa powder, milkfat.
85% – Chocolate, cocoa powder, cocoa butter, demerara sugar, bourbon vanilla beans.
90% – Chocolate, cocoa butter, cocoa powder processed with alkali, sugar, bourbon vanilla beans.

www.lindtusa.com

Discounted at Amazon

Pure7

Pure make a range of organic dark chocolates, from 70% right up to a 100% bar.

100% USDA Organic, Fair Trade, and non-GMO certified.

pure7chocolate.com/

Discounted at Amazon.

Theo

Based in Seattle, WA. 85% and a large range of different flavored 70% bars. A very simple ingredients list with no emulsifier.

Theo was the first US chocolate maker to be fair trade and organic and continues to have one of the most ethical and transparent ‘bean to bar’ processes.

www.theochocolate.com

Discounted at Amazon.

Chocolove

Another company with ethical principles, offering 70% to 88% bars.

www.chocolove.com

Discounted at Amazon.

Ghirardelli Intense Dark

86% Cacao Chocolate Bars (and a 92% if you can find it!). They have bars as well as small squares. The 86% uses Soy Lecithin as an emulsifier.

www.ghirardelli.com

(Discounted at Amazon)

Godiva

72% Cacao Chocolate Bars. Prior to 2017, this bar wasn’t processed with alkali but now it looks like it is according to the updated ingredients. Uses Soy Lecithin as an emulsifier.

www.godiva.com

Discounted at Amazon

Pacari Organic Chocolate

USDA organic raw chocolate.

Wide selection including 70%, 85%, 100%. There is also a ‘101%’ (100% plus some extra coca nibs).

Most contain sunflower lecithin except for the 100%. They use coconut sugar to sweeten the less than 100% cacao bars.

Pacarichocolate.us

Available at Amazon

Valrhona

70%-85% Cacao bars.

This French chocolate is distributed in the USA but can be difficult to find. Has a range of bars up to 85% – uses Soy Lecithin as an emulsifier.

www.valrhona-chocolate.com

Discounted at Amazon.

Amano chocolateAmano

Amano offers a large range of single-origin chocolate bars up to 70% dark chocolate.

www.amanochocolate.com

Discounted at Amazon.

Moser Roth

70% Cacao and 85% Cacao Chocolate Bars.

A German-made chocolate made for the Aldi stores. 85% is processed with alkali (we’re having trouble confirming this). Uses Soy Lecithin emulsifier.

www.aldi.co.uk

Discounted at Amazon.

Loving Earth

Australian-based Loving Earth has a 72% bar.

Raw, only two ingredients (raw cacao + coconut sugar), however being less than 80% it does have a high sugar content.
Organic, processed without alkali, no Soy Lecithin.

 

Discounted at Amazon.

Vivani

Vivani is a German chocolatier that sources ingredients from Ceres (100% organic).

85% bars and 92% available in USA and Canada.

Organic, processed without alkali, no Soy Lecithin.

www.vivano-chocolate.de

Discounted at Amazon.

Ritter Sport

Based in Germany, look for the Fine Extra Dark (73% cocoa).

Uses butterfat to make it creamier (rather than Lecithin).

www.ritter-sport.de

Discounted at Amazon.

Giddy Yoyo

Based in Canada. Raw, USDA organic.

A large range of dark chocolate bars up to 100%.

www.giddyyoyo.com

scharffenScharffen Berger

US chocolate company (owned by a subsidiary of Hershey). Selection of chocolate squares and bars (from 62% up to 82% cacao),

www.scharffenberger.com

Available at Amazon

Righteously Raw

Organic, fair trade, raw, dark chocolate (83%). As far as we’re aware only chocolate is processed on their machinery, so is allergen-free.

www.righteouslyrawchocolate.com/

(Discounted at Amazon)

Sweetriot

Organic, fair trade, dark chocolate. Seem to be having availability issues – only 70% still available (2018).

www.sweetriot.com

(Discounted at Amazon)

Lily’s

Lily’s Dark chocolate bars are sweetened with Stevia (and Erythritol). It uses Fair Trade chocolate and is not processed with Alkali. A good choice if you are following a low-carb or keto diet. There is a range of 70% and an 85%.

lilyssweets.com

See at Amazon.

ChocZero

These squares have been developed for the diet market (specifically low-carb or keto diets). Monk Fruit extract is used as a sweetener, and fiber has been added (soluble corn fiber). The 85% or 92% are best.

www.choczero.com

See the sampler at Amazon.

Notable Mentions

Sam’s Choice (Walmart) – Choose the 90% dark. Ingredients: Chocolate liquor, cocoa butter, sugar, cocoa powder, vanilla beans.

Strongest Dark Chocolate Bars

The more cacao the bar has, the stronger the bar is. Several of the healthy brands offer really strong dark chocolate bars.

  • Alter Eco 90% Super Dark
  • Taza 95% Wicked Dark
  • Lindt 90% and 99% Extra Dark
  • Pure 7 100% Bar
  • Ghirardelli 92% Intense dark
  • Pacari 100% and 101% Raw
  • Vivani 92% Bar
  • Giddy Yoyo Raw 100% Cacao
  • ChocZero 92%Ultimate Dark
  • Sam’s Choice 90% Dark

Boutique Chocolates

There are numerous dark chocolate makers, and their products are often available in a few outlets (or very localized). These are some that we’ve come across.

  • Whittaker’s (New Zealand) – A huge variety of flavors – 72% Dark Ghana being a popular choice.
  • Camino (Canada) – The ‘Intensely Dark’ 88% is a great choice.
  • Valore (Spain) – Have a 70% bar with very high almond content (25%).
  • Ombar (UK) – Raw chocolatiers with 72%-100% dark.
  • Guittard (CA) – 80%-91% dark chocolate.
  • Eating Evolved (NY) – Boutique. Organic, processed without alkali.
  • Zotter Chocolates (Austria) – they offer a mouthwatering array of flavors, and also, 80%-96% dark chocolate bars (the Labooko range) – also certified Fair Trade.
  • Heidi (Romania) – Do a 70% and 85% bar. Similar formulation to Lindt.
  • Montezuma Chocolates (UK) – Have a selection of organic dark chocolate (70%) bars.
  • Vannucci Chocolate (Italy) – Have a 100% cacao bar, along with 73% chocolates.
  • Malmo Chokladfabrik (Sweden) – The 1888 range has a selection of dark chocolates (organic and fair trade). There is even an anti-oxidant boost chocolate (with olives !?).
  • Moonstruck Chocolate (USA) – Specialty chocolates – 68% dark.
  • Askinosie (USA) – Single origin handcrafted – 70% dark.
  • Zazubean (Canada) – Fair trade and organic. Includes an 80% bar.
  • Frey (Switzerland) – Look for the 85% bar.
  • Claudio Corallo – Artisan chocolate made from the most simple ingredients.
  • Vosges (USA) – A variety of chocolates including a ‘super dark’ – that is 72%, and some fair trade and organic bars.
  • HNINA (USA) – The real deal – raw organic dark chocolate. No sugar, soy, or dairy.
  • Cocoa Parlor (California) – USDA organic and fair-trade.
  • Vanini (Italy) – Made with sustainable practices, includes 70%-95% dark chocolate bars.
  • Madecass (Madagascar / US) – A chocolate made at the cacao source (in Madagascar). Includes an 80% and 92% bar.
  • Butler’s (Ireland) – have a 70% bar.
  • Pana (Australia) – Selection of raw organic bars, including ‘Eighty’ – Cacao (min 80%; cacao butter, cacao powder), dark agave nectar.

Dark Chocolates That Aren’t Very Healthy

A popular bar, but Dove dark chocolates don’t make the grade.

  • Dove Dark Chocolate
    Low cacao content. All processed with alkali.
  • CocoaVia Supplement Packs
    These are similar to Crystal Light, except they have flavanols (the main chocolate antioxidant) added in. You will get some health benefits from this, but it is more important to eat the whole food that contains the fiber.
  • Hershey’s Special Dark
    Processed with alkali. High in sugar.
  • Hershey’s Dark Chocolate Kisses
    Despite claims on the package about flavanols, this is a milk chocolate.
  • Dark Chocolate M&M’s
    The ingredients list is ambiguous (they list “chocolate” as an ingredient). However, these are high in sugar (more like candy than healthy dark chocolate).
  • Milky Way Midnight
    Like all the candy brands, this is not really a dark chocolate. It has more sugar than cacao and is processed with alkali.
  • Kit Kat Dark
    Not sure how they can call this dark. Lots of sugar and palm kernel oil.
  • Nestle Dark Hot Chocolate
    Ouch! This beverage mix is the worst of the lot. Sugar, trans-fat, and processed with alkali.
  • Cadbury Bournville
    60g of sugar per small bar.
  • Cadbury Old Gold
    It says dark chocolate on the label, but it is a dairy milk – with a high sugar content.
  • Cadbury Royal Dark
    Ingredients: Semi-Sweet Chocolate (Sugar; Cocoa Butter; Chocolate; Milk Fat; Natural and Artificial Flavor, Soy Lecithin; Milk). Again – a milk chocolate.
  • Brookside Dark Chocolate. This Hershey’s brand is a milk chocolate. Originally marketed as ‘containing fruit’, they have now changed their wording to fruit ‘flavors’.
  • Choceur
    This brand is exclusive to Aldi stores. However the ‘dark’ is only 45% cocoa and is really a milk chocolate. Aldi was also forced to recall the chocolates in 2017 due to almond pieces ended up in some bars.

How to Choose the Best Chocolate

There are dozens of boutique chocolate brands out there. If in doubt, use the following guide.

A true dark chocolate will never have sugar listed first in the ingredients. It should always be below the cocoa ingredients.

It should also tick as many of the following points:

  • 100% Organic
    Note that “organic” does not equal 100% organic (confusing!).
  • Fair Trade
  • > 80% cocoa
  • Not processed with alkali

Also, note that some manufacturers use GMO (genetically modified) ingredients (this is usually the soy lecithin). Soy Lecithin is a byproduct of processed soybeans and is used as an emulsifier (prevents water and fat from separating).

Does Dark Chocolate have undeclared allergens?
Most dark chocolates are produced on the same processing line as chocolate products containing milk. Which is why most of them have advisory labels. A recent testing of 88 bars concluded that “a high proportion of dark chocolate products contain milk at concentrations associated with allergic reactions in sensitive individuals” (see the 2017 study)What about peanuts? The good news is that all bars labeled as peanut-free were peanut-free. However, 17% of chocolates that had no labeling about nuts DID contain traces of peanuts.What about heavy metals? In recent years there has been press about Lead and Cadmium levels in chocolate. This has nothing to do with manufacturing, but the presence of these metals in soils where cacao is grown. To keep in context, dietary cadmium exposure can come from all kinds of foods – cereals, vegetables, nuts, etc. Given the small volumes of dark chocolate that we eat, cadmium in chocolate should not be viewed as a major concern.

See also: Almond Milk: The Best and Worst Brands.

Do you make or sell Dark Chocolate? Don’t add a silly fake comment pretending you discovered it. Just email us! We’d love to hear about your chocolate.
Last Updated: September 9, 2019

732 Comments

  1. Nathaniel T Hughes 3 weeks ago

    A chocolate not on the list that is one of the purest, using only single origin organic beans and raw honey, no sugar or any other additives is Abejitas Raw Honey Dark Chocolate | https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07XQLMB6R/ref=cm_sw_r_other_apa_i_rhxIDbSG3FS2S

    Reply
  2. Bill 3 weeks ago

    Another issue with chocolate is lead and cadmium content. Is there a list or ranking of lead and cadmium content for dark chocolates? Btw, Reeces (sp?) Peanut Butter cups have almost no led content.

    Reply
    • Ted the Macro Coach 3 weeks ago

      I’m not aware of any but Reeses also has very little chocolate.

      Reply
  3. Gary 4 weeks ago

    Do you consider Neuhaus, Cocolate Therapist, Jacques and DAR candy?

    Reply
  4. Barb Dorsett 4 weeks ago

    I really LOVE Choc Zero w/ almonds, so yummy and no sugar!

    Reply
  5. Bren 1 month ago

    Can anyone tell me if Tudor Chocolates is actually dark chocolate? I had one that has 55% dark chocolate with hazelnuts and sugar as its first ingredients. Please include it here thanks!

    I’m also from the Philippines

    Reply
  6. Avis Grant 1 month ago

    Why has Trader Joe’s Dark chocolate 85% bar disappeared? The store told me “ that product has been recalled”.

    Reply
    • Ted the Macro Coach 1 month ago

      It sounds like you just answered your own question. “The store told me “ that product has been recalled”.”

      Reply
  7. reka 1 month ago

    unfortunately here in Romania (and probably most East-European countries) NO CHOCOLATE mentions if they use dutched or undutched cocoa…., so I have to rely on your guide….to find those which are natural…., while just hoping 😀 that the American bars and those that are brought here are absolutely the …same 😉 (ingredient-wise)

    Reply
    • E.J.J. Zweet 3 weeks ago

      I miss Love chock on this list. Vegan, direct trade, organic, biologic and well made, without anything that does not belong.

      Reply
  8. parque lee 1 month ago

    I want a best dark chocolates!

    Reply
    • Ted the Macro Coach 1 month ago

      You’re in luck, We have some of the best in the world listed on this page.

      Reply
  9. Arjan Khemchand 2 months ago

    Is Amul dark chocolate good for diabetes

    Reply
  10. David R. 3 months ago

    I’ve been eating Sam’s Choice (Walmart) for awhile now. 72%. It’s very delicious & glad to say it’s on the good list here. I’ve read that anything above 70-72% cocoa, is beneficial to the heart. Lindt seems to be a good brand that I’ll try next, but a bit more expensive.

    Reply
  11. John 3 months ago

    What about Godiva Pure Dark Chocolate 85% Cacao?
    Thanks

    Reply
  12. Oma Chigozie 4 months ago

    I really need a good chocolate that has little sugar

    Reply
    • Wanda Fountain 3 months ago

      Lily makes some really good chocolates not sweetened with sugar!!
      Lots of variety available at Amazon.

      Reply
    • Gonzalo Sanchez 2 months ago

      Lily’s is not a bad option, but Valor Chocolates from Spain, available in the USA, is the best brand I know for No Added Sugar Chocolates, you can find it at i-herb in the USA, or Amazon in Canada

      Reply
  13. Andria 4 months ago

    Hu is a great Paleo bar, sweetened with coconut sugar.

    Reply
  14. Andria Orlowski 4 months ago

    You forgot to mention Montezuma’s 100% black. No sugar, no sweetener and not bitter. Highly recommended for those that really just want the chocolate, not the sugar.

    Reply
    • Jeanne Dubow 2 months ago

      Trader Joe’s is 1 place that sells this chocolate and its very good.

      Reply
  15. lucy 4 months ago

    Guylian dark chocolate not mentioned as best or worst

    Reply
  16. Bernard 4 months ago

    What about Wendel darks made in the czeck Republic

    Reply
  17. tony 4 months ago

    This web didn’t mention HACHEZ, I think it’s not professional enough~

    Reply
    • Christine Bauman 3 months ago

      How about Trader Joe’s brand? Thank you for this article.

      Reply
      • Barbara Wilson 2 months ago

        I get my 92% at Trader Joes…affordable, too!

        Reply
  18. William Sseginda 5 months ago

    I’m only accessible to”Dairyland, compound” brand that does me good so far

    Reply
  19. James Rosinbum 5 months ago

    My usual go to cacao is called “Good Stuff Cacao” it is 100% raw organic dark chocolate. Yes it is spelled “CACAO” and it is sweetened with raw honey. No dairy, no GMO, noSoy, no Gluten. It also uses Fair Trade in purchasing the cacao. Amazing! Jim in Nashville, TN

    Reply
    • Hillary 2 months ago

      Jim, where do you find this? I also live in Nashville.

      Reply
      • Hillary 2 months ago

        Sorry, I swear I typed James!

        Reply
  20. Daniel 5 months ago

    I use Green and Blacks organics 85%
    It’s my favorite. Out of all the ones mentioned that I’ve tried.

    Reply