Is Dark Chocolate Good For You?
What Does The Science Say About It?
Let’s be honest the only reason you click on a page titled “is dark chocolate good for you” is because you’re looking to justify your next mouthful of chocolate.
This is somewhere between commendable and cunning and we salute you for it.
We are going to show you everything we can, the good the bad, and the tasty.
You’ve probably heard good things about chocolate and maybe some bad things too, but it can be really hard to sort out the wheat from the chaff and that’s why we’ve looked at the science and the studies to understand once and for all if chocolate is healthy and if so, why.
So, Is Dark Chocolate Good For You?
Or Is It A Myth?
Well, there are some myths surrounding chocolate in general and there are some if’s and buts. A lot has to do with the ingredients, the type of dark chocolate and whether it’s actually real chocolate.
Some cheap chocolate is so poor in quality that it is only just “legally” chocolate. Some choc is so unbelievably bad it’s not even legally allowed to be called chocolate so it gets called choc or compound chocolate, so we have to be vigilant in disseminating which chocolate is healthy and which is a poor imposter of a poor imposter.
First, let’s look at the varieties of chocolate:
Different Types Of Chocolate
What Are They? What’s The Difference?
A lot of choices, but not all chocolate is created equal. Some are far healthier than the others and some warrant a one way ticket to the trash.
We’re going to look at them all and find out once and for all which chocolate is the best.
The Dessert Queen
Typically white chocolate is cocoa butter, milk solids, sugar, and flavoring. It contains no cocoa mass so it has nothing to color it brown.
Cocoa butter is similar in color to natural dairy butter and when you add milk solids and sugar, it retains its cream-like coloration.
Many people who consider themselves chocolate connoisseurs refuse to consider white chocolate a real chocolate, but it contains enough cocoa based ingredients that it’s still able to be grouped under the chocolate label.
White chocolate is popular in desserts as it lends flavoring to ganaches, cremes, creams, and creameux. Many pastries, pannacotta’s and set cream dishes are flavored with white chocolate.
The Golden Child
The most popular selling chocolate variety, milk chocolate is the typical type you will find in confectionary and baked goods. Milk chocolate contains cocoa mass, cocoa butter, milk solids, sugar, and flavoring.
The creaminess of the milk solids in milk chocolate not only given it its name but also add to its popularity as the milk solids add creamy notes that make it far more palatable than the more bitter dark chocolate. At least that’s to some people.
Milk chocolate varies wildly in quality in component proportions and as such makes generalizing very difficult when it comes to assessing it’s health properties accurately.
Though white chocolate is popular in desserts, it could be argued that milk chocolate is far more so.
Many cakes, slices, cookies, and pastries are based around milk chocolate.
The Gourmet Chocolate Choice
Many chefs who use milk chocolate would be mocked and derided for such a poor gastronomic choice. Dark chocolate is the favorite of gourmands, chefs and health nuts, which may seem like a strange assortment of folks but the reason is quite simple.
Dark chocolate is the purest form of chocolate with the least tampering and the most cacao flavor, and to a chef, this means maximum taste.
To a heath and nutrition obsessed “lifestyler” like this author, dark chocolate with its lower sugar content and higher cacao proportions, is pretty close to being considered natural and is more a whole food choice than the other chocolate varieties.
Typically dark chocolate is cocoa mass, cocoa butter, sugar and possibly some vanilla flavoring.
Dark chocolate is much lower in sugar than the other varieties. Most of the time the healthiest dark chocolate has higher levels of cocoa mass and less sugar.
Chocolate’s Ugly Imposter
You may have had the misfortune of being offered compound choc also known as choc, chocolate fudge chunks, or something like “chocolate inspired product”.
At some point, it becomes like a parody from The Simpsons, except The Simpsons is funny and these products actually exist.
Without being judgemental some people are happy to pay for and consume these
abominations, fake chocolate rip-offs, foods. But in terms of non-mathematical relativity, these products don’t compare very well.
You Can Do Better
Compound choc is usually sugar, cocoa powder, and a solidified form of fat.
Not only does it not melt in your mouth like real chocolate, it may contain trans fats which are solid at room temperature and can be very bad for your health.
Compound choc can routinely have sugar as it’s first ingredient too, making it pretty awful from a health standpoint.
It’s true that not everybody can afford real chocolate, but if you have the choice, stay away from fake choc if you can.
What Is The Take Away From This?
Even though milk chocolate is more popular, dark chocolate is better, and compound choc is just really truly awful.
Is Chocolate Healthy In Any Form?
Please Let It Be So
While compound choc is bad and white chocolate often contains too much sugar and few of the benefits of dark chocolate, milk chocolate can fall somewhere between not good and okay.
Milk chocolate has so many different brands in different countries with rules as to what consists of real chocolate, but it’s safe to say if it’s cheap, it could be because it’s loaded with sugar which costs less than cocoa mass.
A healthier milk chocolate will contain less sugar, lower fat milk solids, and more cocoa mass, which actually makes it good quality and better for you.
Dark chocolate can also vary, the quality is usually between good and great and this means a lot for not only the taste but the effective health properties of dark chocolate.
Because dark chocolate is much lower in sugar, somewhere between 20% cane sugar to 0%, it will not have the blood spiking effects of lower quality variants. It also contains several key nutritional elements that really make it stand out.
Dark Chocolate Nutrition Facts
Dark chocolate has some wonderfully nutritious properties and is clearly the standout chocolate choice for those individuals who are health conscious.
As you can see below not only does dark chocolate have the antioxidants that make it a “superfood” it also contains some important vitamins and minerals.
Dark Chocolate Per 100g
10 grams of dietary fiber means that 100gs of chocolate can make up over one third of your daily fiber requirements.(1)
Protein 7.79 g
This means dark chocolate can contribute plant based protein to your diet, especially good for vegetarians.
Vitamin B6 0.38 mg
100g grams of chocolate would contribute nearly 30% of your daily requirement of Vitamin B6
Iron 11.90 mg
This is over 90 percent of the iron requirement of an average person. This can only mean it’s a green light for vegans and vegetarians to eat more chocolate right?
Magnesium 228 mg
Over half of your daily requirement of magnesium.
Phosphorus 308 mg
Dark chocolate may contain nearly half of your daily requirement for phosphorus.
Zinc 3.31 mg
This is over one third of an average adult’s daily zinc requirement.
This varies between chocolate types, but dark chocolate is the highest in antioxidant content.
The polyphenol compounds in dark chocolate are catechin and epicatechin
As you can see there are a lot of pretty impressive nutritional stats when it comes to dark chocolate.
What Does This All Mean?
Dark Chocolate in reasonable serving sizes is like a mineral supplement with a big hit of fiber too.
So Why Is Dark Chocolate Good For You?
What Are The Facts?
As if we actually needed a valid excuse, let’s look at some of the key reasons dark chocolate is so great:
1. Gut Health
Dark Chocolate is excellent for gut health because the polyphenols (catechin and epicatechin) get digested further along in the digestive process as the polyphenolic polymers break down into smaller polymers with anti-inflammatory properties. (2)
2. Reduced Bodyfat
Catechins like the powerful ones in dark chocolate and green tea have been shown to help reduce body fat and some LDL cholesterol.
It is believed the antioxidants contain effective lipid (fat) metabolizing properties. (3)
It appears science now confirms what millions of women already know; dark chocolate helps reduce the perception of stress and some of the psychological effects of anxiety.
A study of 3 groups of both men and women consumed chocolate on a daily basis and were found to show a reduction in stress and anxiety. (4)
Dark chocolate may slow down aging and help fight the effects of aging because of the activity of polyphenols in cellular protection and antioxidant function.
The protection of cells from degradation plays a key role in confirming dark chocolate’s status as an anti-aging food. (5)
The antioxidants in dark chocolate contain anti-carcinogenic properties that help not only fight cancer but to prevent the initial development of genotoxic molecules that involve tumor formation.
This is confirmed in a breast cancer study that shows the effects of antioxidant polyphenols on cancer formation in women. (6)
What Can We Determine From All This?
Dark chocolate seems to have cemented its place as a superfood very emphatically with micronutrients, and antioxidants that prevent cancer.
What Are The Dangers Of Dark Chocolate?
While it is seemingly a miracle food, chocolate contains some substances that some people may need to approach with caution.
Some of the dangers of chocolate include:
If you have caffeine allergies or sensitivities, you should be aware that dark chocolate has 43mg of caffeine per 100g. This could be more than enough to cause serious problems for someone with caffeine hypersensitivity.
Even though dark chocolate can contain significantly less sugar than milk and white variants, it still may contain enough to elicit a reaction in diabetics. This will obviously be contingent on the type of chocolate and the individual’s glycemic tolerance. The healthiest dark chocolate brands will be much lower in sugar and may be more tolerable.
While some oxalates are okay and the body can deal with them, too many can cause problems especially for those with kidney problems. Kidney stones can form in someone who consumes too many oxalates, though this is less likely to happen in healthy individuals.
Danger To Dogs
Chocolate is dangerous to dogs and it’s all too easy to leave a piece unattended around the house. Easter sees an increase in dogs suffering from theobromine toxicity.
Please be careful when consuming chocolate around pets.
Because chocolate is calorie dense, it should be consumed in moderation. Excess consumption of chocolate can lead to weight gain, which may in most people is not desirable (though to some it is).
Don’t laugh – This is real.
Chocolate may be both psychologically and physiologically addictive. Caffeine has very real addictive properties, but the reward center, neuronal reinforcement relationship means chocolate is as addictive as any food. The problem may be that being told chocolate is healthy probably serves as an operant conditioning feedback loop reinforcing the value of the very addiction.
So on one hand people joke about being addicted to chocolate but on the other, it’s a delicious, healthy food that just so happens to have a huge psychological effect and it also contains and addictive element in the caffeine constituent.
What Is The Bottom Line Here?
Chocolate may be quite good for you, but it’s not if you can not handle caffeine, it’s deadly to dogs and it can be addictive to some people.
Is Dark Chocolate Good For You?
Is Dark Chocolate Healthy – Yes It Is. Looking through the evidence it appears that dark chocolate may be full of excellent healthful elements that can fight aging, cancer, and is great for your tummy too.
There are some downsides for a very small proportion of the population, but assuming you’re not one of these unlucky folks, it seems a little extra chocolate might well be a treat that’s almost a fully bonafide health food.
Healthy Preview hopes you enjoyed the article Is Dark Chocolate Good For You? The Science Says Yes – If you have a caffeine sensitive condition or are at risk of oxalate toxicity, please consume with caution.