Milk Chocolate Benefits + Side Effects

By Adriane Marie •  Updated: 03/03/22 •  11 min read
milk chocolate benefits and side effects

HEALTH

Energy: milk chocolate is bad for / increases the risk of blood sugar spikes, headaches and migraines, jittery sensations

Longevity: milk chocolate is bad for / increases the risk of diabetes, heart attack, stroke

Appearance: milk chocolate is bad for / increases the risk of weight gain

Milk chocolate is…

a kids book about plant based eating
Teach Kids Where Our Food Comes From. Look Inside!

ENVIRONMENT

Water footprint: high, it takes 17,196 liters of water to produce 1 kilogram of chocolate / 2,061 gallons of water to produce 1 pound of chocolate

Carbon footprint: high, forests cleared for cacao farming are ones that are the best carbon sinks and sources of biodiversity, cacao trees thrive in rain forests, where there’s plenty of humidity and rain, stable temperatures, rich soil, and protection from strong winds, this combined makes chocolate one of the worst foods in terms of greenhouse gas emissions

Destruction: high, milk chocolate production is relatively destructive, land usage for pasture, grain and forage, solid waste (excrement/manure) runoff into soil and freshwater, deforestation for feed crops, animal agriculture leading cause of: species extinction, ocean dead zones, water pollution and habitat destruction, responsible for up to 91% of Amazon destruction, heavy deforestation, farmers cut down older trees in order to clear room for cacao plants BUT sustainable growing practices can be used such as growing cacao in the shade which helps improve biodiversity, carbon sequestration, and nutrients in the soil and the correct use of fertilizer and pesticides including natural pest control and compost

Milk chocolate is…

ANIMALS

Kills: male calves, in most cases the dairy industry sells “unwanted” male calves to be slaughtered for veal, as pregnancy must occur for female cows to lactate and produce milk

Harms: cows, calves mother cow and calf distressed due to separation within 24 hours after birth, male calves slaughtered for veal, female calves fed artificially, locked in tiny cages, cows genetically modified to grow so obese that many become lame (unable to walk) shocked with electric prods, shackled with chains and dragged, beaten, prods poked up rectums, live last few months in crowded feedlots with hundreds or thousands of others, without pasture, often without shelter, must stand in mud, ice and their own waste, dairy cows eventually slaughtered for beef once milk production has ended

Indirectly kills or harms: wildlife and ecosystems, habitat contamination (water and soil pollution), wildlife habitat destruction (deforestation/land clearing), wolves and coyotes killed to prevent predation on livestock

Milk chocolate is…

LABORERS

Health and safety: hazardous, child trafficking is common, parents who cannot afford children sell them to employers, adult and child workers are exposed to toxic chemicals and pesticides and use sharp machetes that cause accidents leading to cuts, wounds and scars on their bodies

Living conditions: poor, reports of 2 million children subjected to child labor in Ghana and the Ivory Coast (the Ivory Coast produces more than a third of the world’s cocoa and over 70% of the world’s supply of cocoa comes from the two countries), children do not receive much food, wear old, worn clothing, usually never attend school, must work long hours

Wages: low, earnings are less than a few dollars per day, below-poverty wages, wages are so low adult workers do not want the jobs which forces employers to purchase trafficked children, child labor pays nothing to child workers, communities are caught in a cycle of poverty from being deprived of education

Milk chocolate has…

milk chocolate is acidic.

acidic foods and alkaline diet benefits that improve ph levels

Is milk chocolate alkaline or acidic? Milk chocolate is acidic. Milk, chocolate, sugar and processed foods are all acidic foods.

When you eat food, it breaks down to an ash residue that can be neutral, acidic or alkaline. Minerals such as potassium, calcium, magnesium, sodium, zinc, silver, copper and iron produce an alkaline ash; whereas sulfur, phosphorus, chlorine and iodine, which are in meat, coffee, dairy and alcohol, leave an acid ash.

Going alkaline easier than ever with this: Acidic and Alkaline Foods List

milk chocolate may contain gluten.

glutinous foods have side effects but a gluten free diet can help

Is milk chocolate gluten free? Yes, milk chocolate is gluten free. Milk chocolate may contain gluten.

While celiac disease may not be as rampant as many marketing trends lead us to believe, you may have a gluten sensitivity…

Celiac and gluten sensitivity symptoms are similar and may include: recurring abdominal pain, chronic diarrhea, constipation, tingling, numbness in hands and feet, chronic fatigue, joint pain, unexplained infertility and low bone density (osteopenia or osteoporosis).

There are hundreds of potential symptoms, many of which are also symptoms of other conditions.

Going gluten-free easier than ever with this: Gluten and Gluten Free Foods List

milk chocolate contains a common food allergen: milk.

side effects of common food allergens like milk, wheat, soy, fish, tree nuts, peanuts, eggs and crustaceans

Is milk chocolate a common food allergen? Yes, milk chocolate contains a common food allergen: milk. Many people experience allergic reactions to milk chocolate.

A group of the eight major allergenic foods is often referred to as the Big-8 and includes milk, eggs, fish, crustacean shellfish, tree nuts, peanuts, wheat and soybeans. 

These foods account for about 90% of all food allergies in the United States.

Severe food allergies can be life threatening. Following ingestion of a food allergen, a person with food allergies can experience a severe, life-threatening allergic reaction called anaphylaxis. 

Persons may still be allergic to and have serious reactions to foods other than the eight foods identified by the law.

Be aware of common dietary restrictions and food allergens with this: The Big 8 Most Common Food Allergens List

milk chocolate likely has a high water footprint.

water footprints of food and products

Does milk chocolate have a high or low water footprint? Milk chocolate likely has a relatively high water footprint compared to other foods.

What is the water footprint of milk chocolate? It takes 17,196 liters of water to produce 1 kilogram of chocolate / 2,061 gallons of water to produce 1 pound of chocolate.

Did you know that water is a finite, non-renewable resource?

We must do what we can to conserve fresh water and a major way to reduce needless water consumption is to change the way we eat. That’s not to say we need to reduce our water intake….quite the opposite. It’s important for our health to drink lots of water and eat foods that hydrate. The kind of water conservation we’re talking about here is behind the scenes.

How much water does it take to produce an apple? A serving of rice? A steak dinner?

We need to be aware of “water footprints”. That is, the amount of fresh water utilized in the production or supply of goods we consume. As it turns out it takes significantly more water to yield foods that come from animals than foods that come from plants. Imagine how much water a cow needs to consume to generate a piece of beef. Not only how much water a single cow drinks, rather all the water that went into producing the crops that the cow ate.

Find out how much water your food consumes with this: Water Footprints of Foods and Ingredients List

milk chocolate likely has a high carbon footprint.

carbon footprints of food and food emissions

Does milk chocolate have a high or low carbon footprint? Milk chocolate likely has a relatively low carbon footprint compared to other foods.

Forests cleared for cacao farming are ones that are the best carbon sinks and sources of biodiversity. Cacao trees thrive in rain forests where there’s plenty of humidity and rain, stable temperatures, rich soil, and protection from strong winds. These factors make chocolate one of the worst foods in terms of greenhouse gas emissions.

Food not only has a water footprint but also a carbon footprint, known as CO2e, which stands for carbon dioxide equivalent. Since carbon measurements are a bit more difficult to comprehend, it is common to equate CO2e to the distance which a car drives in miles or kilometers.

When calculating product emissions, some factors that may be included are… farm equipment, animal feed production, hothouses (greenhouses), food processing, packaging, transport, refrigeration, freezing, package waste, and more.

There are a number of steps we can take to reduce energy output. According to Oxford Martin School researchers, if the world went vegan, eliminating animal-derived products, it could reduce greenhouse gas emissions by two thirds and avoid climate damages of $1.5 trillion.

But that’s not all!

It’s best to keep the following in mind when grocery shopping:

Find out how much carbon your food emits with this: Carbon Footprints of Foods and Ingredients List

milk chocolate is unsustainable.

sustainable shopping, for eco friendly brands and products good for the environment

Overall, is milk chocolate eco friendly? Is milk chocolate sustainable?

Milk chocolate production is unsustainable.

A 2018 Oxford University study – which is the most comprehensive analysis to date of the damage farming does to the planet – found that ‘avoiding meat and dairy is the single biggest way to reduce your impact on Earth’ as animal farming provides just 18% of calories but takes up 83% of our farmland.

Consuming animal products and byproducts is not environmentally friendly and is one of the worst things for the Earth. Not only is meat production wasteful, it causes enormous amounts of pollution. The industry is one of the biggest causes of climate change.

A 2010 United Nations report said that a global shift towards a vegan diet is vital to save the world the worst impacts of climate change.

milk chocolate is not vegan.

benefits of vegan food to eat on a vegan diet which helps save animals

Is milk chocolate vegan? No, milk chocolate is not vegan. Milk chocolate is made from cocoa, sugar and milk. Milk is dairy, the byproduct of a cow, sheep or goat, therefore making it an animal-derived food. A mother cow, mother sheep or mother goat’s milk must be used in order to produce milk chocolate. 

According to Sentient Media, “more than 200 million land animals are killed for food around the world every day. Including wild-caught and farmed fishes, we get a total closer to 3 billion animals killed daily.”

Animals of factory farms and the livestock industry are suffering. They live in horrific conditions that often include confinement, physical abuse and unnatural environments…so much so that they need to receive antibiotics to keep from getting ill or spreading disease. They’re also injected with growth hormones to become fatter faster and live short lives, being slaughtered as soon as they finish growing and are killed prematurely, well before their natural lifespan.

Because we cannot see for ourselves how these animals live and what they endure does not mean it isn’t happening. The meat, poultry and dairy industries do everything they can to distance us from knowing how our food comes to be in order to keep us in the dark about what we support each time we buy animal derived products and byproducts.

Go vegan for animals!

It’s the best way to help animals and it’s not as difficult as you may think. Speak for animals with your actions, for they cannot speak at all.

Going vegan is easier than ever, at a glance with this: Vegan and Non Vegan Foods List

milk chocolate is a product with labor issues.

benefits of buying fair trade, labor rights, human rights and workers rights issues

Is milk chocolate a product with laborer concerns?

Yes, at this time there are concerns with chocolate and milk production.

It’s important to stay aware of human rights concerns and worker exploitation that may come with specific brands.

Did you know the single largest employer in the world is agriculture? The labor involved behind each and every product cannot go unrecognized. 

Sadly, many labor concerns exist around the world in both developed and developing countries. We must be vigilant to ensure what we buy is not contributing to industries that are unfair to their valuable workers. Some known problems include workplace health and safety, child labor, gender inequality, inadequate pay, wage theft and exploitation. Workers can even experience harassment, humiliation and violence and unfair employers often fail to provide laborers with access to shade, drinking water, restrooms and breaks. Consequently, laborers can face nausea, dizziness, heat exhaustion, dehydration and heat stroke -the leading cause of farmworker death! 

Such mistreatment is like modern day slavery. Workers are often afraid to report issues because they fear it will result in losing their jobs or deportation. 

Fair trade organizations fight to ensure better social, environmental and economic standards. 

We can improve people’s lives with foods we eat every day simply by buying products that are certified fair trade. 

Sources:

Washington Post: Is chocolate healthy?

The New Republic: The Challenge of Sustainable Chocolate

Adriane Marie

As an educator, author and conscious consumer advocate, I study and organize ethical info for you to quickly see how our purchases impact animals, people and the planet. I hope you find this HEALabel knowledge useful and can apply it to your life for personal and societal improvement and empowerment.