Few among us can resist a sweet bite of chocolate. It’s not unusual to buy candy bars on an impulse at the grocery store. Chocolate is even part of our most special moments, from weddings and baby showers to holidays like Christmas and Valentine’s Day.

While you shouldn’t go overboard and eat chocolate all the time, there are some perks in allowing yourself the occasional indulgence. Finally – here’s your excuse to eat chocolate guilt-free!

Is Chocolate Good for You?

Science shows there are health benefits associated with eating dark chocolate. This treat can help you relax when you’re feeling anxious, improve your blood circulation, and boost the endorphins in your brain. It’s also thought of as being good for your heart.

According to Harvard Health, the more flavanols in the chocolate, the healthier it is for you to eat. Flavanols are natural compounds found in cacao plants and are particularly good for your circulatory system. They also provide important nutrients to your organs and tissues.

*DISCLAIMER: Quality Logo Products® is not a team of medical professionals. If you have any questions about the health benefits and effects of chocolate, be sure to talk to your doctor.

What is the Best Type of Chocolate for You?

Dark chocolate contains the highest percentage of flavanols, nutrients, and antioxidants, making it the “healthiest” type of chocolate.

You can get the following nutrients from eating dark chocolate:

  • Zinc
  • Magnesium
  • Iron
  • Phosphorus
  • Potassium
  • Calcium

These nutrients help keep your muscles, nerves, and bones healthy. They also boost your immune system, which could mean less sick days in your future!

What Are the Health Benefits of Eating Chocolate?

You know that broccoli, apples, and chicken are good for your health, but you might be surprised to learn that dark chocolate has its perks, too. The following health benefits are associated with eating a moderate amount:

Lowers Blood Pressure

Research from Walden University’s School of Nursing found that blood pressure significantly decreased in participants who enjoyed eating dark chocolate. Low blood pressure is important as you get older, and a few bites of dark chocolate can keep you on the right track.

Improves Blood Circulation

Think of your circulatory system as a series of highways carrying blood to your heart. This is important for many reasons. Not only does it keep your eyesight working well, but it also contributes to the health of your vital organs (heart, kidneys, lungs, liver, and spleen). The good news is you can improve your blood circulation simply by eating dark chocolate according to a study published in The Journal of Nutrition Research.

Reduces the Risk of Heart Disease

A study published in Clinical Nutrition found that people who eat dark chocolate more than five times a week reduce their risk for heart disease by 57%. The cacao beans act as antioxidants and are great sources of iron and zinc, keeping your heart nice and strong!

Eases Congestion

If you have a tickle in your throat, you might want to cook up some dark chocolate cocoa. This remedy can be just as effective as cough syrup, and arguably safer if it’s made with 100% natural ingredients.

Helps You Relax

Grab a helping of dark chocolate if you’re feeling at wit’s end! The Journal of Psychopharmacology published a study reporting that people who eat a lot of dark chocolate have greater feelings of calmness and contentedness. Not hungry? Another study by Essex University found that the smell of chocolate alone is enough to help you feel more at ease!

Sharpens Your Brain

As we age, we want to keep our brains sharp. The Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease published a fascinating study proving that dark chocolate can help! 400 participants were put to the test and observed over a 2-year period. The result was that those who ate dark chocolate significantly lowered their risk of cognitive decline.

Stops Food Cravings

Are you trying to lose weight? A little bit of dark chocolate can go a long way! A neuroscientist named Will Clower wrote all about the power of dark chocolate. In his book, “Eat Chocolate, Lose Weight,” he notes that eating a piece of dark chocolate 20 minutes before and 5 minutes after a meal can cut your appetite by as much as 50%.

Protects Your Skin

While you should still use sunscreen, a 2009 German study found that eating chocolate can protect your skin from the sun and keep it hydrated. The flavanols found in the cacao beans also reduce redness, which is great if you don’t want to look like a lobster in your beach photos!

Boosts Memory

Do you have difficulty paying attention? Try eating dark chocolate! Columbia University Medical Center found that people who drank hot chocolate before a memory test performed 25% better than those who didn’t drink any at all.

Recovers Your Muscles

Keep that Gatorade in the fridge! The Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism found that chocolate milk is a great post-workout drink as it replenishes the carbohydrates in your muscles. It’s no wonder why Pepsi bought the Muscle Milk brand for $465 million!

Wakes You Up

It’s been a long day! Instead of filling up that mug with more coffee, reach for a little bit of dark chocolate. A study from Northern Arizona University tested the ability of chocolate to keep 120 subjects awake. After eating 60% cacao dark chocolate, the participants stayed up and were more alert than those who didn’t eat any chocolate. Just be careful how much you have around bedtime!

A woman named Jeanne Louise Calment died at the age of 122, making her the oldest person who has ever lived. She reportedly ate 2.5 pounds of dark chocolate every week!

Why Does Chocolate Make You Happy?

You feel happy when you eat chocolate because serotonin and dopamine are increased in your brain. These chemicals are known to stabilize your mood and increase feelings of well-being and pleasure.

Chemical triggers aren’t the only thing going on in your brain when you eat chocolate! Harvard University found that this treat can trigger deeper memories or feelings and emotions.

When you take a bite of chocolate, you might call to mind that delicious ice cream you had at your 8th party, or maybe the chocolatey sweetness of your wedding cake. These are fond memories that contribute to your overall positive feeling when chowing down on chocolate treats!

How Much Chocolate a Day is Healthy?

Experts recommend eating no more than 1 to 2 ounces of dark chocolate every day. This is the best type of chocolate for your health, but you shouldn’t eat it all day, every day.

Keep in mind, you don’t have to completely avoid milk or white chocolate! Just do your best to eat these sweeter treats in moderation.

What Are Some Healthy Chocolate Snack Ideas?

Do you suddenly have a craving for chocolate? Reach for healthy chocolate snacks, or whip up a few nutritious recipes. You’ll ultimately have more energy and feel better about your choice to treat yourself!

Try any of these healthy chocolate recipes and snacks:

  • Dark chocolate candy bars
  • Fruit dipped in chocolate
  • Trail mix
  • Dark chocolate cocoa
  • Chocolate smoothie
  • Energy balls
  • Chocolate almonds
  • Greek yogurt
  • Dark chocolate granola bars
  • Chocolate chia pudding
  • Popcorn with dark chocolate

Dark Chocolate Candy Bars

Dark chocolate candy bars are great if you’re looking for a snack. The higher the cacao percentage, the better the chocolate is for you. Shoot for a candy bar that contains at least 70% cacao, and don’t eat the whole thing in one sitting! Break off a piece of two, and you should be good to go!

Fruit Dipped in Chocolate

Strawberries, bananas, apples, oranges, and other fruits can be dipped in dark chocolate. If you want a little bit of protein, you can also cover them in peanut butter. Keep them in the refrigerator and enjoy when you’re feeling hungry!

Trail Mix

Create your own trail mix using almonds, dark chocolate, sunflower seeds, and dried fruit. You can pour the trail mix into individual baggies or containers and have easy snacks to grab if you’re on the go!

Dark Chocolate Cocoa

Warm up a mug of dark chocolate hot cocoa. It’s not only a tasty snack, but it’s also a good pick-me-up on a winter’s day or when you’re feeling kind of “blah.”

Chocolate Smoothie

Chocolate for breakfast? Yes please! Whip together a decadent chocolate smoothie by putting chocolate soy milk, cocoa powder, and 1 to 2 bananas into a blender. Store your drink in a shaker bottle, and get your day started on the right foot!

Energy Balls

Roll peanut butter and melted dark chocolate in a bowl of granola. Let the balls refrigerate and enjoy! These are awesome, protein-filled snacks for you to have after an intense workout.

Chocolate Almonds

You can’t go wrong with chocolate covered almonds as a mid-afternoon snack! Try to find a brand that doesn’t use too much sugar, or better yet, make your own by melting pieces of dark chocolate, dipping in the almonds, and keeping them in the fridge.

Greek Yogurt

Mix crushed pieces of dark chocolate and maybe a few nuts and pieces of fruit in a cup of Greek yogurt. You’ll love the extra crunch and the tasty flavor. It will be just like having your favorite dessert, without the unnecessary calories!

Dark Chocolate Granola Bars

If you buy granola bars at the grocery store, be sure to look for organic options that do not use artificial ingredients. KIND bars and Annie’s are both excellent and won’t cost you too much money. You can also make your own granola bars from scratch using natural ingredients!

Chocolate Chia Pudding

Feed your sweet tooth by mixing almond milk, cocoa powder, and chia seeds to make a yummy pudding. You can even go the extra mile and top it with dark chocolate chunks. Mmm!

Popcorn With Dark Chocolate

Get your fix of sweet and salty by breaking up pieces of dark chocolate and mixing it together with unbuttered popcorn. It’s the perfect snack for movie night!

Are you looking for even more ideas? Look up recipes online for healthier alternatives to all of your favorites like chocolate chip cookies, ice cream, brownies, and truffles. It just goes to show you can stay on track with your nutrition goals, all while still enjoying the occasional sweet treat!

Is Chocolate Bad for You?

For all the deliciousness and health benefits, there is also a downside to eating chocolate all the time. This may include:

  • Weight gain
  • Tooth decay
  • Headaches
  • Low bone density
  • Allergic reaction
  • Environmental impact

Weight gain

It’s possible to gain as many as 2 pounds per month from eating chocolate that’s rich in fats and sugars. Mayo Clinic in New York warns that being overweight increases your risk for diabetes, heart attacks, stroke, mental illness, and breast or colon cancer.

Tooth decay

Sugar is no good for your teeth, and the average ounce of milk chocolate contains about 15 grams while white chocolate has about 17 grams per ounce. Be careful if you love either of the flavors as the added sugar can lead to unwanted cavities.

Headaches

Dark chocolate contains caffeine, which means you could get a headache if you have too much. Other ingredients like tyramine, histamine, and phenylalanine may also cause migraines according to Medical News Daily.

Low Bone Density

Even though dark chocolate contains plenty of zinc and potassium, the jury is out as to whether or not it leads to healthy bones. A study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that older women who consumed a lot of chocolate had a lower bone density and strength.

Allergic reaction

65% of people are lactose intolerant and might not even know it. According to the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA), chocolate is one of the most common triggers of a reaction since you can’t always tell whether or not it is made with milk.

Environmental impact

According to the World Wildlife Fund, illegal deforestation is a huge problem in the cacao farming industry. Trees are being cut down to increase the production of chocolate, and if that’s not bad enough, some farmers are being overworked and underpaid.

It pays to know both the advantages and disadvantages of eating chocolate. You always want to make the best choices when it comes to your health and wellness, and knowledge is power!

Can Chocolate Go Bad?

Chocolate doesn’t expire, but most of the time you will see a recommended “Sell By” date. According to BBC News, you can still eat chocolate past this date as long as it doesn’t smell unusual and hasn’t grown a white coating known as the “fat bloom.”

Overall, your biggest concern with chocolate comes from it becoming stale or melted. You can avoid both of these issues by keeping your treats in a sealed container in your pantry, or placing them directly in your refrigerator.

Why is Chocolate Bad for Dogs?

Chocolate is bad for dogs because it contains theobromine, an ingredient that makes it difficult for your pooch to metabolize the treat. This can cause an upset stomach, rapid breathing, or in the worst cases, seizures.

If your pet has consumed chocolate, reach out to your vet immediately. They will give you a proper diagnosis and let you know which treatments, if any, are necessary.

Is Chocolate Healthy or Unhealthy?

Now that you know more about chocolate, the question remains – is chocolate healthy?

Some sources praise the benefits of dark chocolate, while others warn that you should proceed with caution. Research is still being done on both sides.

The best advice is to eat all types of chocolate, even dark chocolate, in moderation. Even the healthiest foods in excess can be bad for you, and it’s never a good idea to overindulge. You’re the expert of your own health, so do what works best for you!

Stats for Success

44% of people feel guilty about eating chocolate.

A study published by the American Medical Association found that people who are depressed eat 55% more chocolate than those who are not suffering from depression.

57% of people prefer dark chocolate to milk chocolate.

The Bottom Line

In 2020, 45% of people made it their New Year’s resolution to improve their diet. One way to do that is by making sure you’re eating the right foods, and dark chocolate may just belong on that list. While it may not be wise to eat it all the time, a little bite here and there can go a long way!

References

Gourmet Healthy Chocolates. 15 Incredible Chocolate Facts. Retrieved from,
https://gourmethealthychocolates.com/

Pietrangelo, A. (2019, November 5). How Does Dopamine Affect the Body? Retrieved from,
https://www.healthline.com/health/dopamine-effects

Bancos, I. (2018 December). Hormone Health Network. What is Serotonin? Retrieved from,
https://www.hormone.org/your-health-and-hormones/glands-and-hormones-a-to-z/hormones/serotonin

Saafan, A. et. al. (2011, November 8). Dark Chocolate and Blood Pressure: A Novel Study From Jordan. Retrieved from,
https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21696359/

LeWine, H. (2015, June 16). Sweet Dreams: Eating Chocolate Prevents Heart Disease. Retrieved from,
https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/sweet-dreams-eating-chocolate-prevents-heart-disease-201506168087

Martin, N. (2009). Middlesex University Research Repository. Retrieved from,
https://eprints.mdx.ac.uk/5661/2/Martin-chocolate.pdf

Loeschen, D. (2019, June 27). 10 Surprising Facts About Chocolate. Retrieved from,
https://www.mixerdirect.com/blogs/mixer-direct-blog/10-surprising-facts-about-chocolate

Rana, S. (2019, October 18). 13 Interesting Facts About Chocolates That Will Make You Fall in Love With Them! Retrieved from,
https://food.ndtv.com/food-drinks/13-interesting-facts-about-chocolates-that-will-make-you-fall-in-love-with-them-1842557

Reilly, M. (2019, February 21). Hormel Says Earnings Drop on Tax Charges, Reveals Muscle Milk Sale Details. Retrieved from,
https://www.bizjournals.com/twincities/news/2019/02/21/hormel-says-earnings-drop-on-tax-changes-reveals.html

Szalay, J. (2018, March 28). Chocolate Facts, Effects & History. Retrieved from,
https://www.livescience.com/61754-chocolate-facts.html

Rettner, R. (2010, April 26). Depressed People Eat More Chocolate. Retrieved from,
https://www.livescience.com/6341-depressed-people-eat-chocolate.html

Busch, S. Does Candy Make You Gain Weight? Retrieved from,
https://www.livestrong.com/article/555011-does-candy-make-you-gain-weight/

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). (2020, September 17). The Health Effects of Overweight and Obesity. Retrieved from,
https://www.cdc.gov/healthyweight/effects/index.html

Gunnars, K. (2018, June 25). 7 Proven Health Benefits of Dark Chocolate. Retrieved from,
https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/7-health-benefits-dark-chocolate#TOC_TITLE_HDR_7

Harvard Health Publishing. (2015 September). Is Chocolate Really a Health Food? Retrieved from,
https://www.health.harvard.edu/healthy-eating/is-chocolate-really-a-health-food

Nutritious Life. The 411 on Flavanols. Retrieved from,
https://nutritiouslife.com/eat-empowered/flavanols-cocoa-health-benefits/

Heller, J. (2017, July 13). 11 Reasons Chocolate’s Good for You. Retrieved from,
https://www.thedailybeast.com/11-reasons-chocolates-good-for-you

Brooks, A. (2019, August 16). 8 Healthy Reasons to Eat Dark Chocolate. Retrieved from,
https://www.everydayhealth.com/diet-and-nutrition-pictures/delicious-reasons-to-eat-dark-chocolate.aspx

Creveling, M. (2020, November 28). What Happens to Your Body When You Eat Chocolate. Retrieved from,
https://www.eatthis.com/chocolate-health-benefits/

Dolan, E. (2013, April 22). Cocoa Polyphenols Can Increase Calmness and Contentedness. Retrieved from,
https://www.psypost.org/2013/04/cocoa-polyphenols-can-increase-calmness-and-contentedness-17555

University of Copenhagen. (2008, December 23). Dark Chocolate is More Filling Than Milk Chocolate and Lessens Cravings. Retrieved from,
https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/12/081210091039.htm

Apple Podiatry. The Importance of Having Good Blood Circulation. Retrieved from,
https://www.applepodiatrygroup.com/blog/the-importance-of-having-good-blood-circulation

Locke, R. 20 Health Benefits of Chocolate. Retrieved from,
https://www.lifehack.org/articles/lifestyle/20-health-benefits-chocolate.html

Price, A. (2019, November 28). 9 Awesome Health Benefits of Dark Chocolate. Retrieved from,
https://draxe.com/nutrition/benefits-of-dark-chocolate/

Realbuzz. 7 Health Benefits of Chocolate. Retrieved from,
https://www.realbuzz.com/articles-interests/nutrition/article/7-health-benefits-of-chocolate/

Knoblauch, M. (2019, March 13). Americans Feel Guilty About Almost a Third of the Food They Eat. Retrieved from,
https://nypost.com/2019/03/13/americans-feel-guilty-about-almost-a-third-of-the-food-they-eat/

Baier, L. 11 Proven Health Benefits of Chocolate: It is Ok to Eat Chocolate Every Day? Retrieved from,
https://www.asweetpeachef.com/benefits-of-chocolate/

Ballard, J. (2020, December 23). Exercising and Sticking to a Healthy Diet Are the Most Common 2021 New Year’s Resolutions. Retrieved from,
https://today.yougov.com/topics/lifestyle/articles-reports/2020/12/23/2021-new-years-resolutions-poll

Cleveland Clinic. (2020, December 21). Dark, Milk or White – Which Chocolate is Best for Your Heart? Retrieved from,
https://health.clevelandclinic.org/dark-milk-or-white-which-chocolate-is-best-for-your-heart/

Nordqvist, J. (2018, July 17). Health Benefits and Risks of Chocolate. Retrieved from,
https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/270272#1

Kramer, S. (2017, April 5). Dark Chocolate and Blood Flow. Retrieved from,
https://sites.udel.edu/chs-udfoodlab/2017/04/05/dark-chocolate-and-blood-flow/

Bruso, J. (2018, November 27). The Disadvantages of Chocolate. Retrieved from,
https://healthyeating.sfgate.com/disadvantages-chocolates-8967.html

Zeratsky, K. (2020, March 26). Can Chocolate Be Good for My Health? Retrieved from,
https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/expert-answers/healthy-chocolate/faq-20058044

U.S. National Library of Medicine. Lactose Intolerance. Retrieved from,
https://medlineplus.gov/genetics/condition/lactose-intolerance/

East Center Dental. (2020, March 2). Is Chocolate Bad for Your Teeth? Retrieved from,
https://www.eastcenterdental.com/is-chocolate-bad-for-your-teeth/

Street Smart Kitchen. Does Chocolate Go Bad? Shelf Life of Different Types of Chocolate and Tips to Keep It Fresh. Retrieved from,
https://www.streetsmartkitchen.com/does-chocolate-go-bad/

BBC News. (2013, September 28). Five Expired Foods You Can Still Eat. Retrieved from,
https://www.bbc.com/news/blogs-magazine-monitor-24305902

Steffens, K. (2011, November 2). How to Tell When Chocolate Has Gone Bad. Retrieved from,
https://www.huffpost.com/entry/how-to-tell-bad-chocolate_b_936851

McVean, A. (2019, August 23). My Dog Ate Chocolate and He was Fine, So What’s the Big Deal? Retrieved from,
https://www.mcgill.ca/oss/article/health/my-dog-ate-chocolate-and-he-was-fine-so-whats-big-deal

Patton, G. (2020, September 11). Can Dogs Eat Chocolate? All Your Dog and Chocolate Questions Answered. Retrieved from,
https://www.vets-now.com/pet-care-advice/dog-eaten-chocolate/

About the author

Alyssa Mertes

Alyssa is a promo expert with over four years of experience in the industry. She is the Lead Copywriter at Quality Logo Products and has had work published for the Promotional Products Association International and the Advertising Specialty Institute.