Indulging in a sweet and velvety square of milk chocolate can be an exquisite pleasure. The mere thought of its smooth texture melting in your mouth is enough to make anyone’s taste buds tingle with anticipation. But amidst the guilt-laden reputation that often accompanies chocolate, one can’t help but wonder: can this delightful treat actually be good for us?
Skepticism often looms large when it comes to the health benefits of milk chocolate. It’s no secret that chocolate, particularly the milk variety, has been associated with notions of decadence, weight gain, and even guilt. For years, many have questioned whether this popular treat is merely a temptation we should resist, or if it holds some surprising health benefits that we’ve overlooked.
Intriguingly, recent research has begun to shed new light on the true nature of milk chocolate and its potential positive effects on our well-being. This has sparked a renewed interest among scientists, nutritionists, and chocoholics alike, as they delve into the potential hidden depths of this beloved confectionery.
In this article, we will explore the surprising health benefits of milk chocolate, addressing the concerns and skepticism that surround its consumption. We will examine the scientific studies that have sought to uncover the truth, and separate fact from fiction.
So, whether you find yourself indulging in a chocolate bar guiltily or with a hint of curiosity, join us as we embark on a journey to discover the truth behind milk chocolate’s impact on our health.
Read on to find out how this delectable treat might just have some unexpected surprises in store for your well-being. Prepare to have your taste buds tantalized and your skepticism challenged as we uncover the potential benefits that lie within a simple square of milk chocolate.
What is Milk Chocolate?
Milk chocolate is a popular type of chocolate that combines cocoa solids, cocoa butter, sugar, and milk. It has a history dating back to the 17th century when Sir Hans Sloane, an Irish physician, discovered that milk and cocoa beans make perfect partners. The cacao tree (Theobroma cacao) is native to Central and South America, where it was used by the Aztecs in their chocolate beverages.
To make milk chocolate, cocoa beans are first harvested from the cacao tree’s pod. The beans are then fermented, dried, and roasted to develop their flavor. The roasted beans are ground into cocoa solids and cocoa butter. When producing milk chocolate, cocoa solids are combined with cocoa butter, sugar, and milk, creating a smooth, sweet taste.
The mixture goes through a refining process, and then it is tempered and molded into bars or other desired shapes.
Milk chocolate is available in various forms, such as bars, truffles, and baking chips. It differs from dark chocolate, which has a higher percentage of cocoa solids and doesn’t contain milk. White chocolate, on the other hand, contains cocoa butter, sugar, and milk but lacks cocoa solids.
You can enjoy milk chocolate in numerous tasty treats, from plain chocolate bars to delectable desserts. It’s ideal for melting and drizzling over fruit or incorporating into baked goods like cookies, brownies, and cakes. Milk chocolate can also be used as a coating for candies and nuts or mixed into hot cocoa for a deliciously creamy beverage.
Remember to always consume milk chocolate in moderation, as it contains sugar and saturated fats, and it is not as rich in antioxidants as dark chocolate. Enjoy experimenting with milk chocolate in your favorite recipes and savoring its sweet, creamy taste.
When it comes to milk chocolate, several key ingredients contribute to its taste and texture: cocoa, sugar, milk, cocoa butter, cocoa powder, and often vanilla. These ingredients come together to create a creamy, sweet, and satisfying treat.
Cocoa is a crucial component of milk chocolate and provides its distinct flavor. While the amount of cocoa in milk chocolate is less than that of dark chocolate, it still carries certain health benefits to consider. Cocoa contains antioxidants that may have positive effects on heart health, blood pressure, and inflammation.
Sugar is the ingredient responsible for the sweetness of milk chocolate. Since milk chocolate often contains higher sugar content compared to darker chocolates, it is important to consume it in moderation. Consuming high amounts of sugar can lead to weight gain, tooth decay, and other health issues.
Milk provides the creamy texture and rich flavor of milk chocolate. It is a source of calcium, which is beneficial for bone health. However, some ingredients in milk can trigger allergies or intolerances in certain individuals, so alternatives such as almond or soy milk can be used to create milk-free chocolate.
Cocoa butter is a type of fat that comes from the cocoa bean. It contributes to the creaminess and smooth texture of milk chocolate. Cocoa butter can be a source of saturated fat, so it’s essential to be mindful of your consumption to maintain a balanced diet.
Cocoa powder is a dry, unsweetened form of chocolate that can be used in various recipes, including making hot chocolate milk. It adds depth of flavor without the added sugar and fat of milk chocolate bars.
Vanilla is often added to milk chocolate recipes to enhance and balance the flavors of cocoa and sugar. While not a significant contributor to nutrition, vanilla adds a pleasant aroma and subtle taste, elevating the overall experience of enjoying milk chocolate.
Milk chocolate may not have the same health benefits as dark chocolate, but it still contains some nutrients that can contribute to your daily intake. Let’s take a closer look at the nutritional composition of milk chocolate.
Milk chocolate typically contains more calories than dark chocolate, as it combines cocoa solids with sugar and milk powder. Consuming a standard milk chocolate bar (about 1.5 oz or 42 grams) can provide you with around 230 calories. In terms of macronutrients, a milk chocolate bar consists of carbohydrates, fats, and a small amount of protein.
Carbohydrates in milk chocolate come from sugars and they account for roughly 25 grams per serving. There’s usually minimal dietary fiber in milk chocolate, which is less than 1 gram per serving.
Out of the total fat content, you’ll find a combination of saturated, monounsaturated, and polyunsaturated fats, which contribute to the 50 fatty acids found in milk chocolate, as per a study conducted on commercial milk chocolate bars in Brazil.
Although milk chocolate is not an excellent source of essential minerals and vitamins, it still provides some significant amounts like:
- Calcium: Essential for strong bones and teeth.
- Magnesium: Plays a vital role in muscle and nerve function.
- Iron: Necessary for red blood cell production.
- Zinc: Supports a healthy immune system.
- Vitamin A: Crucial for good vision, a healthy immune system, and cell growth.
- Vitamin C: Required for the growth and repair of tissues in your body.
- Vitamin D: Vital for calcium absorption and bone health.
- B Vitamins, including B6 and cobalamin: Helps convert food into energy and maintain a healthy nervous system.
One potential downside, however, is the sodium content in milk chocolate. While it’s relatively lower than in other processed foods, it can still contribute to your daily sodium intake. According to a study on commercial milk chocolate bars, the average sodium content was found to be about 45 milligrams per serving.
It’s essential to keep in mind the nutritional information of milk chocolate when incorporating it into your diet. By consuming it in moderation, you can still enjoy its satisfying taste while benefiting from the nutrients it offers.
Health Benefits of Milk Chocolate
Milk chocolate may have some benefits for your heart. Cocoa powder, the main ingredient in chocolate, is rich in antioxidants called flavonoids, which can help protect your heart. Dark chocolate is known to contain higher levels of these antioxidants, but milk chocolate still has some of these heart-healthy compounds.
Flavanols, such as epicatechin and catechin, found in cocoa help improve blood flow and reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases.
Consuming milk chocolate in moderation might also contribute to maintaining healthy blood pressure levels. The flavonoids present in cocoa can help promote blood vessel dilation and improve blood flow, which may in turn help regulate your blood pressure.
However, it’s essential to remember that moderation is vital, as consuming high amounts of milk chocolate can lead to weight gain and negate these benefits.
Milk chocolate has some anti-inflammatory properties that can be attributed to its cocoa content. Cocoa powder is rich in flavonoids and other antioxidants that can help reduce inflammation in your body. Consuming milk chocolate in moderation may help decrease the risk of chronic inflammation-related conditions.
Milk chocolate contains essential nutrients for maintaining strong bones, such as calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, and potassium. These minerals play a crucial role in supporting your bone structure and preventing osteoporosis. Additionally, milk chocolate contains protein, which is vital for healthy bones. However, it’s important to consume milk chocolate in moderation, as excessive sugar intake can negatively impact your bone health.
While it may be surprising, consuming milk chocolate in moderation might help with type 2 diabetes management. The flavonoids found in cocoa can help improve insulin sensitivity and stabilize blood sugar levels. However, it’s essential for people with diabetes to choose milk chocolate with low sugar content and monitor their overall sugar intake.
Remember to consume milk chocolate in moderation, as excessive consumption can lead to weight gain and other adverse health effects. Enjoy its potential benefits while still maintaining a balanced diet.
Pros and Cons
When it comes to milk chocolate, there are both advantages and disadvantages to consider. Let’s examine the pros and cons of incorporating milk chocolate into your diet.
Milk chocolate can be a source of some essential nutrients. It contains moderate amounts of cocoa, which provides minerals such as magnesium, iron, and potassium. Additionally, milk chocolate contains some calcium and protein, thanks to the added milk. These nutrients contribute to your overall health, including your bone and heart health.
Additionally, moderate chocolate consumption has been linked to a lower risk of heart disease and stroke. Certain compounds found in cocoa can help improve blood flow and reduce inflammation, which is beneficial for your cardiovascular health.
Lastly, the taste of milk chocolate might be appealing to you. Its creamy, sweet flavor may satisfy your sweet tooth while providing some nutritional benefits.
While milk chocolate has some positive attributes, it also comes with drawbacks. The first downside is its high calorie, fat, and sugar content. Excessive consumption can lead to weight gain, obesity, and increased cholesterol levels, which can negatively impact your overall health.
Another concern with milk chocolate is the added sugar. Consuming large amounts of added sugar can contribute to tooth decay, spikes in blood sugar levels, and an increased risk of developing chronic diseases such as diabetes.
Moreover, milk chocolate typically has a lower cocoa content compared to dark chocolate. This means that milk chocolate contains fewer beneficial antioxidants, fiber, and other nutrients found in cocoa. If you’re looking for a more nutritious treat, opting for a higher cocoa content dark chocolate may be a better choice.
In conclusion, milk chocolate has both pros and cons. While it can provide some essential nutrients and cardiovascular benefits in moderation, its high calorie, fat, and sugar content, along with the lower cocoa content, may outweigh the potential benefits for some individuals. Consider your personal health goals and preferences when deciding if milk chocolate is the right choice for you.
In recent years, there has been growing interest in understanding the potential health benefits of chocolate, particularly milk chocolate. Various studies and scientific analyses have been conducted to explore its effects on the human body.
One study on the effects of milk and dark chocolate on appetite and energy intake revealed that dark chocolate might be more satiating than milk chocolate. Although milk chocolate is not as satiating, it can still provide satisfaction and aid in reducing cravings for sweet treats.
Another significant aspect to consider regarding milk chocolate is its antioxidant content. A study published in Nature states that plasma antioxidants from chocolate suggest that milk chocolate contains a lower concentration of antioxidants compared to dark chocolate.
This means that individuals would need to consume a larger quantity of milk chocolate to obtain the same antioxidant benefits as from dark chocolate.
Milk chocolate has also been subject to experimentation with inulin, a dietary fiber and prebiotic substance. A study conducted on the rheological and physical properties of inulin-containing milk chocolate found that it could potentially contribute to the creation of functional milk chocolate by improving the overall nutritional content without significantly affecting the taste and texture.
Another interesting aspect worth mentioning is a study which investigated the effect of virtual eating environment on consumers’ evaluations of healthy and unhealthy snacks. This study found that milk chocolate was perceived as less healthy than rye nachos. While not directly related to the health benefits of milk chocolate itself, this finding demonstrates how perceptions can affect choices and enjoyment of snacks.
In summary, while milk chocolate may not be as nutritionally beneficial as dark chocolate, it can still play a role in satisfying cravings and contributing to a balanced diet. Further studies can be conducted to explore new ways to improve the nutritional content of milk chocolate, thereby offering even more health benefits for its consumers.
What Do Health Experts Say About Milk Chocolate?
When it comes to milk chocolate, health experts have varying opinions on whether it is good for you or not. One thing that is clear is that milk chocolate typically contains less cocoa and more sugar and milk than dark chocolate. As a result, it does not offer the same health benefits that come with the higher concentration of cocoa found in dark chocolate.
That being said, milk chocolate does contain some trace amounts of the beneficial compounds found in cocoa, such as flavonoids. Flavonoids are known to have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and heart health benefits. However, the amount of flavonoids in milk chocolate is significantly smaller than in dark chocolate, which means the overall impact on your health might be minimal.
Health experts advise you to consume milk chocolate in moderation, as it can still contribute to added sugars and unnecessary calories in your diet. It is essential to remember that overconsumption of any type of chocolate, even dark chocolate, can lead to weight gain, tooth decay, and other negative health consequences.
Instead of relying on milk chocolate for potential health benefits, you could include dark chocolate in your diet, as it contains a higher percentage of cocoa and fewer added sugars. Dark chocolate is more likely to provide antioxidant and heart health benefits, making it a more suitable choice for those looking for a healthier chocolate option.
In summary, while milk chocolate may not necessarily be harmful when consumed in moderation, it does not offer the same health benefits as dark chocolate. It is important to be mindful of portion sizes and consume chocolate in a balanced and reasonable manner to maintain a healthy diet.
Who Should Avoid It?
As an adult, you should be cautious when consuming milk chocolate due to its high calories and fat content. If you’re already dealing with obesity or aiming to maintain a healthy weight, limiting your intake of milk chocolate is important. Consuming excessive amounts of milk chocolate may lead to weight gain, and can increase your risk of developing health issues such as diabetes, heart disease, and high cholesterol.
Milk chocolate is often high in carbohydrates, which can cause blood sugar spikes if you have diabetes. If you are diabetic or at risk of becoming diabetic, it’s crucial to manage your carbohydrate intake. Opting for dark or white chocolate with significantly lower sugar content may be a better choice.
Individuals with a history of heart disease should also be cautious when consuming milk chocolate. A high intake of saturated fats from milk chocolate could negatively impact your heart health, leading to potential issues such as blood clots or blocked arteries.
For women, there are certain factors to consider before incorporating milk chocolate into your regular diet. Firstly, milk chocolate’s high sugar and fat content might exacerbate acne. If struggling with hormonal acne or prone to skin breakouts, it’s best to limit your milk chocolate consumption.
Women who are pregnant or nursing should consult a registered dietitian or healthcare professional before consuming large amounts of milk chocolate. Excessive sugar and caffeine in milk chocolate could negatively impact fetal development or affect the nursing baby.
Regarding osteoporosis, some studies suggest that excessive intake of sugar might affect bone health. If you have a history of osteoporosis or are at risk for the condition, consider limiting your milk chocolate intake to prioritize your bone health.
Lastly, if you’re an active woman, remember that milk chocolate isn’t an ideal recovery or sports drink. While small amounts of chocolate might not be harmful, relying on it as a primary source of energy or recovery nutrients is not the best choice for maintaining a balanced and healthy diet.
If you’re looking to satisfy your sweet tooth without indulging in milk chocolate, consider exploring some natural and healthier alternatives. These options can provide you with similar enjoyment while also offering additional health benefits.
Tea: A variety of teas, such as green, black, or herbal teas, can be a satisfying and healthy substitute for milk chocolate. Many teas contain antioxidants and other compounds that can help improve your overall health. For instance, green tea is rich in catechins, which are known for their cancer-fighting properties. Additionally, tea provides an enjoyable and relaxing experience without the added sugars and fats found in milk chocolate.
Fruit: Fruit is an excellent natural alternative to milk chocolate. Not only does it satisfy your sweet cravings, but it also provides your body with essential vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Some fruits, like grapes and cherries, have a natural sweetness that can be enjoyed on their own or in fruit salads. You can also try dipping fruits like strawberries or sliced apples in dark chocolate, which has a higher cocoa content and is generally considered healthier than milk chocolate.
Seeds: Seeds, such as chia, flax, and pumpkin seeds, can be a tasty and nutritious alternative to milk chocolate. These seeds are packed with essential nutrients like omega-3 fatty acids, protein, and fiber, which can help improve your heart health and digestion. Enjoy seeds on their own or try incorporating them into recipes like granola bars or smoothies for an added nutritional boost.
In summary, the potential health effects of milk chocolate depend on its ingredients and consumption quantity. Milk chocolate contains cocoa solids, which are a rich source of flavanol antioxidants. These antioxidants can provide various health benefits, such as improving cardiovascular health and reducing inflammation.
However, milk chocolate often contains higher amounts of sugar and fat compared to dark chocolate. This can lead to increased calorie intake and negatively impact your health if consumed in excessive amounts. Moderation is key when enjoying milk chocolate to reduce the risk of weight gain and other associated health issues.
When choosing milk chocolate, opt for a higher-quality product with lower sugar and fat content, since the healthiness of your milk chocolate largely depends on the specific ingredients. For a healthier alternative, consider consuming dark chocolate, which generally has higher cocoa content and less added sugar.
To make the most out of your milk chocolate experience while mitigating the potential negative health impacts, pay attention to portion sizes and consider incorporating it into a balanced diet that includes other antioxidant-rich foods, such as fruits and vegetables. This will allow you to satisfy your sweet cravings while ensuring that you maintain a nutritious diet for overall well-being.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the health benefits of milk chocolate?
Milk chocolate contains small amounts of antioxidants like flavonoids, which are known for their potential health benefits. It is also a source of calcium due to the milk content. However, the concentration of beneficial compounds is generally lower than that in dark chocolate. It’s important to consume milk chocolate in moderation and not rely on it as your primary source of these nutrients.
How does milk chocolate compare nutritionally to dark chocolate?
Milk chocolate contains less cocoa mass than dark chocolate, typically around 10%. As a result, milk chocolate has fewer antioxidants and flavonoids compared to dark chocolate. Milk chocolate also contains more sugar, fat, and calories due to the added milk and sugar.
Can milk chocolate improve mood and stress levels?
While there is no definitive evidence to support the idea that milk chocolate can directly improve mood and stress levels, many people do report feeling happier and more relaxed after consuming it. This could be due to the release of feel-good chemicals like endorphins and serotonin induced by the sugar and fats present in milk chocolate.
What are the potential disadvantages of consuming milk chocolate?
Milk chocolate’s high sugar and fat content can lead to weight gain if consumed in excess. Additionally, consuming too much sugar might increase the risk of type 2 diabetes and heart disease. The added milk in milk chocolate also makes it unsuitable for those with lactose intolerance or allergies to milk proteins.
How does milk chocolate affect heart health?
While milk chocolate contains some antioxidants that may have heart health benefits, its high sugar and fat content might outweigh these potential benefits when consumed in large quantities. In contrast, dark chocolate with a higher cocoa content has been linked to better heart health due to its higher concentration of beneficial compounds.
Is it healthy to include milk chocolate in a balanced diet?
Including milk chocolate in your diet is not inherently unhealthy, but moderation is key. Enjoy milk chocolate as an occasional treat rather than a regular part of your diet. Opt for healthier sources of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals by consuming a wide variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and protein sources.
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