Health Benefits of Dark Chocolate

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dark chocolate health benefits

Many people love dark chocolate because it is rich, decadent, and delicious.

We normally think sweet things are sugary and “bad” but dark chocolate can also be good for you!

This post will discuss the health benefits of dark chocolate that many people don’t know. Things like anti-oxidants, caffeine levels, and being a good source of materials.

(Everyone already knows about magnesium so we won’t talk about that very much!)

We will answer common questions along the way like:

  • Is dark chocolate bad for you?
  • What kind of dark chocolate is best for you?
  • How much dark chocolate should you eat in a day?

Are you ready to unwrap some dark chocolate nutritional wisdom? Let’s peel things back and dive in!

Side note: In this post I’ll sometimes use dark chocolate and chocolate synonymously. Please note I am talking about the same thing unless I say ‘milk chocolate’.

Lastly, chocolate cravings can be out of control and highly problematic, this must be acknowledged. But many people can enjoy chocolate and should without guilt, so read one!

Is Dark Chocolate Bad For You?

chocolate bar with sugar crystals

Many people think chocolate is the equal to candy bars and other sugary snacks because it has a sweet taste.

But if you think all sweet foods are bad then you’ll be depriving yourself of great and healthy food choices like oranges and sweet potatoes.

Just because something is sweet and sugary doesn’t mean it’s ‘bad’.

Chocolate has a lot of health benefits, in addition to being sweet and sugary.

Unlike a lot of other junk foods, chocolate contains anti-oxidants and caffeine levels which can help your body out in various ways such as:

  • increasing brain function,
  • improving your memory, and
  • helping you sleep better

Yet, just like how saying ‘all sugary foods are bad’ is unwise we also don’t want to say everything is healthy for you too.

Because chocolate can have a lot of fat in just one serving and doesn’t have much protein either.

If you just eat chocolate then you might not get the vitamins and minerals you need to function in a healthy way.

So chocolate is good for you so long as it’s consumed in moderation!

If you are eating chocolate in moderation, here are some interesting health benefits you may have never heard about!

1 – Good Source of Minerals

dark chocolate hershey bars

While overindulging in sweet forms of chocolate can leave you feeling bloated …

High-cacao content chocolate is a good source of fiber when eaten in moderation!

Besides, chocolate is a mineral-packed snack—providing you with a part of:

  • Iron
  • Magnesium
  • Copper
  • Manganese

A few bites of a chocolate bar a day can help you meet your daily values.

But watch out, the nutrient value decreases when the manufacturer needs to heat the chocolate higher due to sugar content says Koko Black.

A high percentage of cacao keeps the minerals in and gives you a source of heart-healthy oleic acid which can be great for your blood pressure 🙂

2 – The Caffeine Levels Aren’t as Bad as You Think

Has anyone ever told you that while chocolate has health benefits, they don’t matter because it still has caffeine?

When you compare the caffeine in chocolate to other drinks we consume daily, like coffee or soda, guess what you’ll find?

You’ll find that the amount of the caffeine is minuscule compared to them!

Consider the theobromine content instead.

Theobromine is a gentle stimulant that provides your body with energy without the negative effects of caffeine.

In fact, using raw cacao shells to make tea results in a dark chocolate flavored, caffeine-free beverage full of health benefits which maintains a healthy amount of theobromine for a more natural energizing effect.

If you’re worried about the caffeine levels of dark chocolate or blood pressure, just answer one question:

When’s the last time you had a heart flutter after you ate chocolate?

Never? I thought so!

3 – Dark Chocolate Contains Equal Antioxidants To Blueberries

Last on this list of a few healthy things you didn’t know about dark chocolate is the presence of antioxidants.

Antioxidants help the body regulate and reduce the risk of free radicals that can speed up aging and destroy cells.

Some chocolate brands like Alter Eco carry dark chocolate bars with 100% pure cocoa butter in them.

This type of chocolate bar has the highest concentration of antioxidants. About 319 milligrams per serving (which is one ounce).

Blueberries only contain 191 milligram antioxidants per serving.

Blueberries are famous for their high antioxidant content. But cacao often has a much higher concentration in a single serving!

As you can see, there’s so much more to dark chocolate than what meets the eye!

If you eat a serving of pure dark chocolate, you’ll help your body prevent harmful oxidation and enjoy a rich treat at the same time!

Now with all this hype about the benefits of chocolate let’s be sure to clarify …

What kind of dark chocolate is best for you?

It’s important when choosing chocolates not to look for sugar-free options because they lack many nutrients.

Plus they are usually made mostly out of artificial sweeteners. These could have worse health effects than regular dark chocolates that have a little bit of sugar in them.

Now what about the sugar alternatives to dark chocolate?

Well, milk chocolate and white chocolate both have many additives to make them taste sweeter.

With high cacao percentage chocolate, there are few extra ingredients added to alter the flavor. The more cacao, the lower the sugar content.

In general, the health benefits of ‘dark’ chocolate only apply to ‘dark’ chocolate.

Yes, this does mean you face a trade off between taste and health benefits.

  • Milk chocolate which tastes better to some but has more sugar and less health benefits
  • Dark chocolate which might be more bitter to a few people but has more health benefits

Overall, the darker the chocolate the better but don’t worry if you eat some other cocoa solids too.

I am not recommending you take milk chocolate everyday. That level of chocolate will increase your risk of diabetes and constrict your blood vessels.

But chocolate in moderation can actually be a good and beneficial thing for you.

Studies actually show that chocolate may help fight heart disease and promote healthy blood flow!

How much dark chocolate should you eat in a day?

Well, dark chocolate typically contains about 70% cacao.

Studies show that 30 grams of dark chocolate is the optimal serving size to consume daily (which is around one ounce).

This amount has been found to have health benefits without too many negative effects like caffeine or sugar can cause.

Here are some ideas on different ways to eat dark chocolate 🙂

  • Chocolate spread on bread
  • Chocolate squares (in moderation)
  • Chocolate chips for baking and sprinkling

Final Thoughts

Dark chocolate has been shown to have a number of health benefits.

The key is moderation and the right kinds of dark chocolates. You should also know that dark chocolate contains less caffeine than milk or white chocolate. So it’s not going to keep you up at night!

Even better? It has minerals like copper, iron, magnesium and manganese. These can help with your heart health as well as anti-oxidants that reduce inflammation and high blood pressure in the body.

So if you’re craving some sweets but want something healthier, go ahead with a dark chocolate choice! Read here for more info on how to pick foods for mood.

If you want more info as to what your food cravings mean then be sure to check out our post here.

About the Author

Jared Levenson is a former binge eating wrestler turned Zen Buddhist Monk, Internal Family Systems counselor and nutrition wellness coach. He's helped hundreds of people through universal meal principles and internal family systems to make peace with food, stop binge eating, and find true health and wholeness.


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