I've recently received several questions about nutrition data in general, and sugar content in particular. Brief information about these topics is now on my FAQs page, and I want to offer answers here on the blog as well.

Let's focus on sugar content because that's what most of you have asked about. It's simple to figure out for any dark chocolate, and you don't need nutrition facts to do it. Here's the first step:

100 - CACAO PERCENTAGE = ADDED SUGAR PERCENTAGE

The cacao percentage is usually easy to find. Nearly all quality chocolate (including mine) will print it right on the packaging:

 
The percentage is prominently displayed on most quality chocolate bars because it is a key indicator of flavor--namely, of the sweetness level. Lower percentages are sweeter, and higher percentages are less sweet.

The percentage is prominently displayed on most quality chocolate bars because it is a key indicator of flavor--namely, of the sweetness level. Lower percentages are sweeter, and higher percentages are less sweet.

 

Once you have the added sugar percentage figured out, it's easy to calculate exactly how many grams/ounces of sugar are in a given amount of chocolate. Here's that step:

ADDED SUGAR PERCENTAGE x CHOCOLATE MASS = ADDED SUGAR MASS

An example always helps. Let's say you have a 1oz (28g) bar of "75% dark chocolate." Just from the label, you know the cacao percentage is 75%. Using the first formula, we can subtract 75% from 100% to find that 25% of the chocolate is added sugar. Using the second formula, we can take 25% of 1oz. That's easy: .25oz, or about 7g. Cacao itself contains a negligible amount of sugar, so you're done. And now you know there's about 7g of sugar in a 1oz bar of 75% dark chocolate.

What about a 100% bar? Even easier. 100% - 100% = 0% added sugar. No added sugar! That's one reason why 100% bars are increasingly popular. If you're trying to avoid any kind of added sugar but still want chocolate, they can be a great option.


You may be wondering: if it's so easy to calculate sugar content, why don't more craft chocolate makers put it on their bars? A major factor is that once product packaging includes claims about nutrient content, the full nutrition facts panel is required to back them up.

Turns out the laboratory analysis behind nutrition facts is cost prohibitive for most small food manufacturers. On top of that, nutrition facts are usually not the first things craft chocolate customers are curious about. It all adds up to most makers, myself included, avoiding the expense. (For the record, nutrition facts are not required on products with fewer than 100,000 unit sales per year, unless the packaging makes health- or nutrient-related claims).

 
As is common in craft chocolate, my packaging highlights flavor, story, and ingredients rather than nutrition facts.

As is common in craft chocolate, my packaging highlights flavor, story, and ingredients rather than nutrition facts.

 

However, if you are interested in standard nutrition facts data for dark chocolate, it's quickly found. My top suggestion is to do a google search for "dark chocolate [insert your cacao percentage] nutrition facts." Sugar content should be consistent across brands. Fat content will vary somewhat by brand, but you'll get a good estimate.

Of course, you can also look at the nutrition facts on chocolate from companies that do print them on their packaging.

Keep in mind: nutrition facts describe macronutrients (fats, sugars, proteins) and major vitamins and minerals. They won't tell you much about micronutrients--the hundreds of naturally occurring plant chemicals in chocolate and unrefined cane sugar--or about growing and processing methods, all of which affect the integrity of our food. Let your individual dietary concerns and food philosophy be your guides when deciding what information to focus on.

Comment