5 Sweet Health Benefits of Chocolate

Doctor William C Lloyd Healthgrades Medical Reviewer
Medically Reviewed By William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS
Written By Allison Firestone on September 2, 2021
  • Woman eating a chocolate
    Chocolate’s Rich Rewards
    Recent studies have revealed new health benefits of eating chocolate—and not just the dark kind. There’s an expanding body of research outlining the sweet treat’s power when it comes to staying healthy and keeping your mind sharp.

    Like other superfoods, chocolate is packed with disease-fighting properties. And, as it turns out, you can get many benefits from both the dark and minimally processed milk and powdered varieties. So chocolate lovers rejoice! Here are five ways a daily dose of chocolate can boost your overall health.
  • Pieces of dark chocolate
    Maintaining Heart Health
    Chocolate can play a key role in reducing your risk of heart disease. And it doesn’t take much. One study found that adults who ate slightly less than an ounce of chocolate each day had lower rates of heart disease than those who didn’t eat any. While more research is needed to pinpoint exactly how chocolate is doing this, it’s clear the type of chocolate you eat isn’t important; positive effects showed up for both light and dark varieties.
  • Calendar date for cholesterol screening
    Controlling Cholesterol
    Chocolate’s antioxidants seem to protect against plaque buildup on your artery walls, too. A study in the Journal of Nutrition linked regular chocolate consumption with reduced LDL cholesterol, the unhealthy type that builds up in arteries. Two elements of chocolate—stearic and oleic acid—are thought to be the ingredients that keep cholesterol levels in check. Here, dark chocolate has the advantage: Comparative studies have linked darker chocolate to the strongest cholesterol-lowering effects.
  • Chocolate pieces and ground cocoa on wood table
    Easing Blood Pressure
    Eating a small square of chocolate that contains 50 to 70% cocoa on a daily basis can help lower your blood pressure, especially if you have hypertension. When blood pressure—the force pushing out on your artery walls—remains high for a long time, arteries become stretched and even damaged. Chocolate combats this with flavonoids, nutrients that have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant powers. These cause blood vessels to dilate, improving blood flow to the brain and heart and reducing blood pressure
  • Cocoa
    Preventing Cognitive Decline
    Drinking two cups of hot chocolate each day can improve brain health and prevent memory decline. A Harvard Medical School study showed that chocolate increased blood flow in particular areas of the brain, improving cognitive function in adults. Research has also shown that people who consume chocolate each day have improved attention, memory, and executive function.
  • Woman standing on weight scale
    Maintaining a Healthy Weight
    Regularly eating chocolate can actually help you make healthy diet choices. Researchers from the University of Copenhagen found that after eating chocolate, particularly the darker version, people experienced fewer cravings for sweet, salty, and fatty foods, and they felt more satiated overall. This means indulging in a bit of dark chocolate on a regular basis can not only leave you feeling happy and satisfied—it can also help you stick to a healthy diet.
5 Sweet Health Benefits of Chocolate
Allison Firestone
  1. Can Chocolate Be Good for My Health? Mayo Clinic. http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/expert-answers/healthy-choc... 
  2. Chocolate Consumption and Cardiometabolic Disorders: Systematic Review and Meta-analysis. The BMJ. http://www.bmj.com/content/343/bmj.d4488 
  3. Chocoalte Consumption and Risk of Stroke. Neurology. http://www.neurology.org/content/early/2012/08/29/WNL.0b013e31826aacfa.abstract 
  4. Cocoa: A Sweet Treat for the Brain? Harvard Medical School. http://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/cocoa-sweet-treat-brain-201502057676 
  5. Daily Consumption of a Dark Chocolate Containing Flavanols and Added Sterol Esters Affects Cardiovascular Risk Factors in a Normotensive Population with Elevated Cholesterol. U.S. National Library of Medicine. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18356327
  6. Dark Chocolate: An Obesity Paradox of a Culptirt for Weight Gain? U.S. National Library of Medicine. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24000103 
  7. Eating Dark and Milk Chocolate: A Randomized Crossover Study of Effects on Appetite and Energy Intake. University of Copenhagen. http://nyheder.ku.dk/alle_nyheder/2011/2011.12/maelkefedt_goer_chokolade_fedende/Soerensen_og_Astrup... 
  8. Habitual Chocolate Consumption and Risk of Cardiovascular Disease Among Healthy Men and Women. The BMJ. http://heart.bmj.com/content/early/2015/05/20/heartjnl-2014-307050 
  9. Harvard Study: Dark Chocolate Can Help Lower Your Blood Pressure. AARP. http://www.aarp.org/health/medical-research/info-03-2011/dark-chocolate-can-help-lower-your-blood-pr... 
  10. Healing Foods Pyramind: Dark Chocolate. University of Michigan. http://www.med.umich.edu/umim/food-pyramid/dark_chocolate.html 
  11. Heart Health Benefits of Chocolate. Cleveland Clinic. http://my.clevelandclinic.org/services/heart/prevention/nutrition/food-choices/benefits-of-chocolate 
  12. Neaurovascular Coupling, Cerebral White Matter Integrity, and Response to Cocoa in Older People. Neurology. http://www.neurology.org/content/early/2013/08/07/WNL.0b013e3182a351aa.abstract 
  13. Probing Questions: Which is Healthier, Milk or Dark Chocolate? Penn State University. http://news.psu.edu/story/141242/2008/06/20/research/probing-question-which-healthier-dark-or-milk-c... 
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Last Review Date: 2021 Sep 2
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