I wrote last year about Easter chocolate and the horde of sugar it brings into our home. Refine sugar is an unmissable ingredients of those treats. If I take for example one of the famous little gold bunny for 100 grams, you have 550 Calories, 33 g of fat, among which 20 g of saturated fat and 55 g of sugar! Knowing that the recommended intake of sugar per day is 90 grams for a woman and 120 grams for a man, eating only two of them will makes any lady go over this advised limit. We haven’t even mentioned recommended limits for children!
For fat, it has to be known that the authorities recommend the population to get on average 12.6% of their energy (kJ/kcal) from saturated fats, which is slightly above the 11% maximum recommended by the government. The average man should aim to have no more than 30g of saturated fat a day, the average woman should aim to have no more than 20g of saturated fat a day and children should have less. So with 20 grams of saturated fat in one little bunny, we are reaching the limits rather fast. A look at the ingredient list allow us to learn that we have sugar, cocoa butter, whole milk powder, cocoa mass, lactose (milk protein), skimmed milk powder, emulsifier (soya lecithin), barley malt extract, anhydrous milk fat (Anhydrous milk fat, butter oil, can be manufactured from either butter or from cream. For the manufacture from butter, non-salted butter from sweet cream is normally used, and the process works better if the butter is at least a few weeks old. Melted butter is passed through a centrifuge, to concentrate the fat to 99.5% of greater)1, flavouring vanillin, that the cocoa solids are at least 30% and the milk solids at least 14%. That is really a hip of information to understand and digest! You may know that ingredients on food labels are listed in the order of the proportion they represent in that very food from the main ingredients to the lesser used. So here, we know that the main ingredient is sugar, followed by cocoa butter (fat). We have Soy Lecithin, which is an emulsifier, not bad in itself, but knowing that at least 98% of the conventional soy is grown from GMO crops, we can easily suppose that we are fed GMOs.
If we look at the famous yellow Hollow milk chocolate egg (including one egg -Milk chocolate (48%) covered peanuts (24%) in a sugar shell- and 3 bags of peanut treats). A look at the ingredients let us know that we can find sugar, cocoa butter, skimmed milk powder, cocoa mass, lactose and protein from whey (from milk), palm fat, whey powder (from milk), milk fat, emulsifier (soya lecithin), natural vanilla extract and that the milk chocolate contains 14% minimum of milk solids and 25% minimum of cocoa solids, that the milk chocolate contains vegetable fats in addition to cocoa butter. Again, the main ingredient is sugar, followed by cocoa butter (fat). We also can see that we are fed with palm fat, known for its disastrous ecological impact on top of its bad effect on our health. We cannot forget the famous Soy Lecithin as mentioned above. And we haven’t looked at the nutrition facts yet… The egg and the 3 packs of treat come to a total of 313 grams and we can learn from the label that for 100 grams of product we get 528 calories, 29 grams of fat among which 17.3 grams are saturated and the staggering amount of 58,3 grams of sugar!!
With one 100 grams bunny and one third of the yellow treat, any woman would largely overdose here daily recommended intake of sugar. That means without having any sugar in tea or coffee, no desert, no fruit, no any other sugar (which also naturally occur in some veggies, the most obvious being carrots) we are on a sugar overdose…
If we look at some organic alternative which could be found on my favourite food home delivery website, I have selected two options. A milk chocolate chunky button egg big milk egg which list the following ingredients: milk chocolate (sugar [40%], cocoa butter [29%], whole milk powder [21%], cocoa mass [10%], natural flavouring: vanilla. As you can see, the list is rather short and nothing fancy that cannot be identified and of course all ingredients are organic. From the nutrition facts we can learn that 100 grams will bring 583 calories, 48 grams of sugar and 40 grams of fat of which 24 are saturated.
The second option are mini milk chocolate eggs. The list of ingredients is again rather short: milk chocolate containing cocoa solids 37% minimum & milk solids 21% minimum ( sugar, cocoa butter, whole milk powder, cocoa mass, vanilla powder). Again very understandable and all organic. The nutrition facts are similar to above with 573 calories for 100 grams, 49,1 grams sugar and 38,1 grams fat among which 23,2 grams are saturated.
We can see that the sugar content is less while the saturated fat is higher. This can easily be explained by the fat contained in the milk which is used to manufactured to chocolate (which being from organic origin will be much better as not loaded with harmful chemicals).
While the nutrition value of the organic version is not much better that the other sorts of chocolate, what has to be noticed is the notable difference in the ingredient list and especially the absence of any GMOs or palm fat.
Just those two elements should direct us to favour the organic version.
We already have heard about the challenges sugar bring to one health (more to read here) but the combination of sugar and unhealthy fat leads to another hip of health troubles, from weight challenges to heart issues. And we haven’t even spoke about all the nasty chemicals or other ingredients you might want to avoid (such as GMOs) that you could find as well.
So while no one wishes to spoil the festive side of Easter and enjoy chocolate, read your labels.
Be conscious, be informed.