Surprising Health Benefits of Chocolate - Beautiful Eats & Things

Surprising Health Benefits of Chocolate

Doesn’t it seem like when people want to start eating better they completely cut off all fried foods, bread, pasta, rice, desserts…and definitely NO chocolate! Chocolate has a bad rap of being full of fat, sugar and one of the worst foods you can eat. But, is it really that bad? I’m here to tell you that there are several surprising health benefits of chocolate, but first, let’s discuss the different types of chocolate and the best ones to eat.

chocolate bars on a white plate on a pink surface

What’s the best chocolate to eat?

The different types of chocolate include dark chocolate, milk chocolate, white chocolate (which isn’t actually chocolate – we’ll talk about this more below), cocoa powder, and cacao powder. 

White chocolate doesn’t have any cocoa solids. It’s simply made of cocoa butter, milk and sugar. Milk chocolate does have cocoa solids. It has between 10-50% along with cocoa butter, milk and sugar. Now dark chocolate has the highest percentage of cocoa solids, 50-90%. 

You might be wondering what’s the importance of knowing the amount of cocoa solids. The more cocoa solids a chocolate has the more flavonoids and less sugar it has. I’ll share with you more about flavonoids when we talk about the health benefits of chocolate.

I think it’s interesting to note that dark chocolate usually isn’t made with milk, but what we do want to keep in mind is that it can have small amounts of milk from cross contamination during processing with other chocolates. So someone who is lactose intolerant may do better with dark chocolate than any of the others. 

chocolate bars on a white plate on a pink surface

What are the health benefits of chocolate?

Helps lower blood pressure

Here’s some good news about dark chocolate. It has flavanols which help relax blood vessels and in doing that it lowers blood pressure. This is a great benefit to our overall heart health considering that almost half of adults in the US have high blood pressure. Flavanols come from plants and have antioxidants. Antioxidants help protect our cells from being damaged.

Gives a fiber boost

Sometimes on a cold day, there’s nothing more satisfying than a nice, hot beverage. 100% pure cocoa powder has zero added sugars, 2 grams of fiber per serving and meets 10% of the daily value for iron. Cacao powder is very similar to cocoa powder except it’s been processed less. 

A source of nutrients

You might also be excited to know that dark chocolate has some really important minerals too. I mean, how great is it knowing that what you enjoy is also something that provides benefits to your health?

  • Fiber
    • A very important nutrient for regular bowel movements, reducing high cholesterol, reducing risk of certain cancers (colon cancer in particular), reduces risk of type 2 diabetes and helps us to feel full.
  • Iron
    • A very important mineral for young children and pregnant women.
    • Helps with growth and development, reproduction, immune function and even wound healing. 
  • Magnesium
    • Helps reduce risk of high blood pressure
  • Zinc
    • Helps support the immune system
  • Phosphorous
    • Helps reduce risk of high blood pressure
  • Copper
    • Helps with collagen and connective tissues
  • Flavanols
  • Calcium
    • Helps reduce risk of high blood pressure


I think it’s important to talk about taste. Yes, the nutritional benefits of food are wonderful, but it is very important to enjoy your food. As a dietitian, we see too many people struggling, overwhelmed and completely unsatisfied with the way they feel like they have to eat. A bland, boring diet is not the only way to be healthy.

healthy double chocolate banana muffins on a white surface with chocolate chips

How can I enjoy chocolate without going crazy?

Even with all of the health benefits mentioned about eating dark chocolate it doesn’t mean you can eat however much you want. Overeating chocolate can add quite a bit of calories, fat and added sugars. A typical serving of chocolate is between 1-2 ounces or 1 tablespoon of cocoa powder. 

Homemade hot chocolate: Making your own hot chocolate at home is the way to go. It puts you in control of how much sugar you are consuming. To make your own hot chocolate follow this simple recipe: 

  • Milk of your choice
  • 1 tablespoon of cocoa/cacoa powder
  • 1-2 teaspoons of sugar of your choice

Homemade hot mocha: To switch up my coffee routine, every now and again I like to add cocoa powder. Same as doing the homemade hot chocolate, doing it at home puts you in the driver seat in terms of the amount of sugar you add. Depending on the size of your coffee you may want to start with 1 teaspoon of cocoa powder and add more as needed. 

Chocolate bars: Break off 1-2 ounces of chocolate and add to snack bags. This can help you control portion size. You can also buy snack size bars instead to help control portions. Whenever I do something like this where I buy a whole bag, I like to store it out of reach. Don’t just put it in plain sight in the pantry where you can easily access it. Make it harder on yourself if it’s too tempting ;-).

Add to smoothies and baked goods: Add cocoa/cacao powder to a peanut butter banana smoothie or to a chocolate muffin recipe.  

Did you make this?

I’d love to know! Please let me know by leaving a review below. Or snap a photo and share it on Instagram; be sure to tag me @beautifuleatsandthings

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