Product review: Light chocolate – can it help you shed weight?

Written by Catherine Saxelby on Friday, 24 April 2009.

Product review: Light chocolate – can it help you shed weight?

Everyone loves to indulge in chocolate yet we all know it's a food that's laden with fat, sugar and kilojoules - and it's damn hard to stop at just one mouthful. So it's hardly surprising that dieters have turned hopefully to light chocolate to provide pleasure without guilt. At first glance, it looks like the answer to a dieter's prayers!

I have to say right up front that choc isn't one of my weaknesses (I have others like nougat or soft jellies). But I was interested to see how much you could save by doing a swap from say a regular Mars Bar to a light Mars Bar.

I bought two bags of fun-size Mars from the supermarket - one regular, one light. One small bar (just enough for three bites) has 3.8 grams of fat and 420 kJ. One Lite bar comes in at a low 1.9g and only 265 kJ.

So compared to a normal Mars, the Lite version saves you 50% fat. So far, so good. However the total kilojoule savings is not that high - it's only 37%.

But hang on a minute. The light bar looked a lot smaller. Then it hit me. The savings are also due to the smaller size - you're eating only 16 grams of total chocolate when the real version gives you 22 grams of chocolate. Small wonder.

So it's not only less fat. It's also 6g less chocolate overall! Take a look at this comparison which sums up these differences and you'll see that you don't save much in kilojoules (Calories):

Choc bar Fat Kilojoules
  g per bar kJ per bar
Mars Fun Size 22g 3.8g 420
Mars Lite fun size 16g 1.9g 265
You'll save 50% 37%

3 ways chocolate is lightened to make it 'healthier'

There are three other ways chocolate manufacturers can ‘lighten' chocolate. They can:

1. aerate or whip it while it's still warm so there's more air incorporated. Tiny bubbles of air trapped with the chocolate mean a less dense chocolate. You consume fewer kilojoules. Think of the popular Aero bar.

2. enrobe the bar, but keep the filling light. Think of chocolate filled with Turkish delight, nougat or mousse. Sixty grams of a solid milk chocolate lands you with 1295 kJ, but 60g of choc-coated bar (eg. Milky Way or Fling bar) gets things down to a lower 1045 kJ. You eat, you save.

3. replace the sugar or fat with polydextrose or another bulking agent, and use sugar replacers such as isomalt or surcralose that add fewer kilojoules. This is how Cadbury Lite does it. See another chocolate comparison - this time weight for weight.

Choc bar

Fat

g per 100g

Carb

g per 100g

Kilojoules

per 100g

Cadbury Dairy Milk 29.5 57.0 2220
Cadbury Light 16.1 37.3 1890
You'll save 12% 35% 15%

 One thing struck me. Even with sweeteners and extenders, the Cadbury Lite saves you a miserable 12% fat and 15% kilojoules. Hardly worth the trade down! Especially with the lack of real chocolate-y flavour.

I had to ask myself - was the light choc worth it? I had to admit I'd rather eat a small amount of the ‘real thing' than lots of a light substitute. As long as I made myself focus on the food, savour it slowly and then I'd feel satisfied. Interesting, eh?

Buy the full eGuide report now

This post is taken from my eGuide The Shoppers Guide to Light Foods for Weight Loss which analyses over 50 light foods with their regular versions - including chocolate.

 
 
 
 
 
Catherine Saxelby

About the Author

Catherine Saxelby knows nutrition! She is an accredited nutritionist, food commentator, blogger and award-winning author. Her latest book Catherine Saxelby's Food and Nutrition Companion answers all those tricky questions on healthy eating, diets and supplements. It draws together a lifetime of advice and gives you all you need to know to eat right! It's a complete A to Z. A handy desk go-to reference.