Chocolate and cocoa are among the high potassium foods. They have greater than the 3 to 1 ratio of potassium to sodium recommended by the Institute of Medicine. Although you should limit how much chocolate and some types of cocoa you eat because of the saturated fat content and high caloric density, they do not need to be avoided and can be indulged in on occasion. Some cocoa does not have this problem, and they both have quite a few admirable qualities.
The ratios in the table show that cocoa, especially the Dutched cocoa, has a huge amount of potassium and very little sodium. Cocoa and chocolate also are loaded with antioxidants. The only downside is the saturated fat content and the caloric density. Of the total fat, more than half comes from saturated fat, sometimes up to 2/3. Chocolate's caloric density is very high with lots of calories in a very small volume. Just one square of unsweetened baking chocolate has over 500 calories. Those with more fat have a higher caloric density.
The cocoas come in two varieties, natural (more prominent in the United States) and Dutched (more prominent in Europe). Dutched is treated with alkali and thus has more potassium present from the alkali. It should be treated differently in cooking, but is preferable since the natural cocoa needs baking soda for baking, and that adds sodium to the baked good, usually resulting in much more sodium than potassium and thus destroying the bone density and cardiovascular advantages of cocoa.
The breakfast cocoa in the table can be confusing. There are two different kinds. In the table, breakfast cocoa is the type defined by the FDA, not the type that some people have written about as a way to have cocoa in the morning for breakfast by adding milk and sugar. The FDA defines breakfast cocoa as cocoa having more than 22% cocoa fat.
The chocolates and more details about cocoa we'll discuss in the next post. They are a fascinating food that can be a positive addition to your health or a negative one, with only slight variations. The sugar content of cocoa and unsweetened baking chocolate is minimal. The dark chocolate cacao solution and Mexican baking chocolate are loaded with sugar.
The weights for the potassium and sodium are milligrams. The potassium and sodium values given are for 100 grams of food.
As usual, K is potassium, and Na is sodium.
Except for the potassium to sodium ratio (which we calculated), the source of data is: USDA National Nutrient Database Standard Reference – Release 22.
|BAKING CHOC, MEXICAN, SQUARES||397||3||132.3|
|BAKING CHOC, UNSWTND, LIQ||1166||12||97.2|
|BAKING CHOC, UNSWTND, SQUARES||830||24||34.6|
|CHOCOLATE, DK, 45- 59% CACAO SOL||559||24||23.3|
|CHOCOLATE, DK, 60-69% CACAO SOL||567||10||56.7|
|CHOCOLATE, DK, 70-85% CACAO SOL||715||20||35.8|
|COCOA, DRY PDR, HI-FAT OR BRKFST, PLN||1574||20||78.7|
|COCOA, DRY PDR, HI-FAT OR BRKFST, PROC
|COCOA, DRY PDR, UNSWTND||1524||21||72.6|
|COCOA, DRY PDR, UNSWTND, PROC W/ALKALI, DUTCHED||2509||19||132.1|