Chocolate bars with higher “% cocoa solids” on the label generally have more polyphenols (flavanols) than ones with lower percentages, according to a study in the Journal of Functional Foods.
We’ve previously reported that such labels are not necessarily a reliable indicator of polyphenol content, since processing of cocoa beans into commercial chocolate reduces these potentially healthful compounds. But when investigators analyzed 46 bars (30 to 100 percent cocoa solids), they found that dark chocolate had significantly more polyphenols than milk chocolate—and within brands, the polyphenol content was consistently higher with increased percentage of cocoa solids.
Moreover, for 31 bars of varying types, manufacturers, and origins, there was a positive linear correlation between polyphenol concentration and the percentage of cocoa solids. “The polyphenol content in chocolate bars is accurately reflected by the % cocoa solids on the labels,” the paper concluded. Even small amounts of dark chocolate (6 to 10 grams—or 0.2 to 0.35 ounces—a day) have been linked to cardiovascular benefits.
See also: How to Find the Healthiest Chocolate.