Dark chocolate has some promising health benefits, and that's all thanks to cacao. Unfortunately, there are some sustainability issues that come along with the bars, and the chocolate industry has come under fire for unethical sourcing practices that are harming farmers and the communities that produce them.
In a time like ours, choosing the best organic chocolate bar means buying from a company that prioritizes sustainability and ethical sourcing. And with so many options on the market, we set out to help you find the tastiest of them all.
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How We Chose
We asked registered dietitians to share their favorite organic chocolate bars. They told us what makes each of these bars unique, and let us know what ingredients, nutrient info and labels to look out for when shopping.
The organic chocolate bars on this list were chosen based on the following criteria:
- Cacao content
- Heavy metal content
- Sustainability and ethical farming efforts
- Taste and texture
- Amount of sugar
1. Mast Organic Dark Chocolate
- Sugar: 6 grams
While milk chocolate is undeniably delicious, dark chocolate tends to have more nutritional perks.
"Dark chocolate is rich in a group of antioxidants called flavonoids," says Mackenzie Burgess, RDN. "Research shows that epicatechin, a specific flavanol found in cacao and dark chocolate, is particularly beneficial for supporting heart health."
This 80 percent cacao chocolate bar has low levels of heavy metals lead and cadmium, according to ConsumerReports, making this a safe snacking choice.
Buy it: MastMarket.com; Price: $7 for a bar
2. Raaka Mini Dose Chocolate Bars
- Sugar: 2 grams
With unique flavors like Pink Sea Salt, Oat Milk and 100% Cacao, this variety pack of organic chocolate bars from Raaka has something to satisfy every chocolate lover's palate. Because each bar is certified-organic and free of allergens like soy and GMOs, this one is surely worth adding to your chocolate stash.
"Each Raaka bar has minimum to zero added sugar, and they have some iron and magnesium," says Edibel Quintero, RD. "These bars are small, which means you don't have to eat a lot of it in one sitting. Even better is that the product is organic, vegan, gluten-free and soy-free for those with dietary restrictions."
3. Taza Organic Mexican-Style Chocolate
- Sugar: 2 grams
With exciting flavors like Guajillo Chili, Coffee and Cinnamon, this variety pack of Mexican-style organic chocolate bars from Taza will definitely spice things up. It comes with eight chocolate "disks" that make the perfect sweet snack when a craving hits.
"Not only does Taza offer incredible quality chocolate, but they offer dairy-free options and some delicious flavors to choose from," says Lindsay Wengler, RD, CDN.
"Taza ingredients are chosen with care, and they take sourcing their cacao seriously. Each year they publish transparency reports that show their commitment to the environment and fair labor practices for the farmers they work with."
4. Venchi Organic Ecuador Dark Chocolate
- Sugar: 5 grams
This organic chocolate bar from Venchi is a must-have for chocolate lovers who like a rich, bold flavor. The cocoa beans used to make it are sourced from a single-origin, Ecuador, which is known for cocoa that has a very aromatic intensity and aroma with toasted notes, according to Venchi.
"Venchi chocolate has a lot of cacao, which offers powerful antioxidants and flavanols," Wengler says. "Flavanols are linked to heart health benefits like improved blood flow and blood pressure." Just another delicious reason to reach for chocolate!
Buy it: Venchi.com; Price: $9.95 per bar
5. Eating Evolved Signature Dark Chocolate
- Sugar: 7 grams
This organic chocolate bar from Eating Evolved is superbly balanced with a satisfying crunch and a salty-sweet finish. It's also vegan and paleo-friendly. At 72 percent cacao, you'll get that distinct flavor as well as the antioxidants.
Eating Evolved is certified by the Rain Forest Alliance, an organization that helps protect forests and the rights of farmers by addressing issues like child labor, low wages and poor working conditions.
Eating Evolved also uses organic coconut sugar to sweeten their chocolate bars, which may be more sustainable than ingredients like cane sugar.
Things to Consider Before Buying
When you're shopping for the best organic chocolate bars, here are some things to consider as you search.
When selecting organic chocolate, it's helpful to look at the cacao percentage. Generally, bars with a higher cacao percentage have more antioxidants and less sugar.
With this in mind, Burgess advises sticking with bars containing 70 percent cocoa or higher. "This higher percentage allows you to really get the benefits of the cacao, like fiber and antioxidants," she says. "These bars will also have a more intense flavor."
Lead and Cadmium
Unfortunately, chocolate can be a source of lead and cadmium, two heavy metals. Consistent, long-term exposure to even small amounts of these metals is linked to health issues including nervous system problems, hypertension, immune system suppression, kidney damage and reproductive issues, per ConsumerReports.
To limit your exposure to these heavy metals, eat chocolate in moderation and choose one of the approved bars on the list above.
Labels and Certifications
To determine if your organic chocolate bar is actually organic, make sure to check your product labels. "Look for the USDA Certified Organic label on the packaging," Butler explains. "This means that the product has met strict organic standards.
As you saw with many of the organic chocolate bars on our list, good chocolate doesn't have to be so complicated. When you're shopping, stick with products that have a small and simple ingredient list, as it ensures your chocolate that's claiming to be "healthy" isn't filled with additives and artificial flavors.
"For the best quality organic chocolate, look for an ingredient list that ideally has nothing more than cocoa, cocoa butter, sugar and milk ingredients (if you tolerate lactose) without any added fats or artificial flavors," says Jennifer Pallian, RD.