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Is Chocolate Good for You? Only if You Pick the Right Kind

Elizabeth Renter
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June 19th, 2012
Updated 11/02/2012 at 8:25 pm
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chocolatedark 235x147 Is Chocolate Good for You? Only if You Pick the Right Kind

Is chocolate good for you? It’s been around for about three thousand years, and yes, it does have health benefits. But before you run out and buy the largest chocolate ice cream cone you can find, we should preface this report by saying: Not all chocolate is created equal!

Dark chocolate is by far the healthiest choice. It is the closest to the natural cacao bean of any chocolate treat you’ll find in your grocery store, and we all know that natural is better. Milk chocolate, white chocolate and chocolate flavored goods are all more processed than dark chocolate and therefore more likely to contain components that aren’t good for you.

Read: Health Benefits of Chocolate

Chocolate donuts, candy bars (unless they are dark chocolate without all of the “extras”), chocolate cake, ice cream, and any other highly-processed chocolate products won’t likely deliver many health benefits. But dark chocolate can.

Is Chocolate Good for You?

So now that we have answered the question to ‘is chocolate good for you’, here are just some of the health benefits of chocolate:

Improved Heart Health

A little piece of dark chocolate everyday can reduce the risk of heart disease. According to an Italian study originally published in the Journal of Nutrition, researchers found that 6.7 grams of chocolate a day can reduce inflammation that leads to heart disease.

Lower Diabetes Risk

Another Italian study (maybe the Italians are on to something), published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, showed that short term consumption of dark chocolate results in increased insulin sensitivity. The participants ate a moderate amount of dark chocolate each day for 15 days and researchers found their potential for insulin resistance dropped by about half.

Healthier Skin

Dark chocolate can increase blood flow to the cutaneous and subcutaneous tissues, and even increase skin density and hydration, according to a 2006 study in The Journal of Nutrition. Participants also noticed less sun damage , and decreased roughness when compared with the control group not on a steady dose of chocolate.

Reduced Risk of Stroke

Swedish scientists found that women who had the highest consumption of chocolate (about two bars a week) had a 20% lower risk of stroke. Although the study was exciting, scientists caution the same benefits could be achieved through high intake of other forms of antioxidant rich foods and cautioned against adding two candy bars a week to your diet.

Chocolate Improves Mood!

Okay, we didn’t need a scientist to tell us this, but a study did confirm what many of us already knew—that chocolate eaters had lower levels of stress hormones in their bodies after consuming dark chocolate.

In order to get the deliciously sweet and slightly bitter dark chocolate that you find on the shelves, the cacao bean is processed with fats and sugars, among other things. So even though there are great benefits to chocolate consumption, moderation is still key. A small square or two of high-quality dark chocolate every day should be enough to reap the benefits when paired with an otherwise healthy diet.

Is chocolate good for you? Yes!

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  • Dean

    When choosing dark chocolate in bar form, be sure there is NO SOY LECITHIN added. Also, if going for many raw variations, be aware of the AGAVE scandals whereby what is passed off as “healthy” may be a Trojan Horse far worse than any sugar, even refined.

  • david tug

    my nutsack

  • Diana McCalla

    I incorporate healthy chocolate into my diet every day. Because the beans are cold pressed, just 3 pieces equal 10 – 12 servings of raw fruits and vegetables for as little as 100 low glycemic calories. Because it stops inflammation, I no longer have to take pain pills for the arthritis in my hips. And it tastes so good I think I am doing something wrong! There is a great article about the difference between "good" chocolate and "bad" chocolate at cocoa 101.com.

    • http://jimstonefreelance.com Trevor

      Gelatin (unflavored knox) will do much better at curing your arthritis

  • Paula

    Once you try Raw chocolate there is no going back.

    • mackey

      where can one purchase raw dark chocolate.

  • http://www.elementsforlife.co.uk Dan

    While dark chocolate is clearly better than milk or white chocolate, the best option is to explore raw chocolate. This is typically minimally processed, with no dairy, refined sugars or added fats

  • JW

    Don't buy the new Whole Foods line of chocolate bars, the one I tried was repulsive to anyone used to fine chocolate. Take a very good look at the ingredients as well.

  • Italics Mine

    When they talk about dark chocolate and lower diabetes risk, does their dark chocolate contain sugar, artificial sweetener, or no sweetener at all?

  • Bri

    Percentages of chocolate are shown of the box of some of the better chocolate. 90% chocolate, for example, means only 10% additives such as sugar. Man does that good chocolate taste good. Not that expensive either.

  • Steven

    David(avacado)Wolfe is the authority on chocolate. He will guide you.