Can chocolate be good for my health?

Answer From Katherine Zeratsky, R.D., L.D.

Healthy chocolate sounds like a dream come true, but chocolate hasn't gained the status of a health food quite yet. Still, chocolate's reputation is on the rise, as a growing number of studies suggest that it can be a heart-healthy choice.

Chocolate and its main ingredient, cocoa, appear to reduce risk factors for heart disease. Flavanols in cocoa beans have antioxidant effects that reduce cell damage implicated in heart disease. Flavanols — more prevalent in dark chocolate than in milk chocolate — may also help lower blood pressure and improve vascular function.

In addition, some research has linked chocolate consumption to reduced risks of diabetes, stroke and heart attack. But more research is needed to confirm these results.

In the meantime, if you want to add chocolate to your diet, do so in moderation. Why? Most commercial chocolate has ingredients that add fat, sugar and calories. And too much can contribute to weight gain, a risk factor for high blood pressure, heart disease and diabetes.

On the other hand, cocoa itself, unlike chocolate, is low in sugar and fat while offering potential health benefits. If you enjoy chocolate flavor, add plain cocoa to your low-fat milk or morning oats.

March 26, 2020 See more Expert Answers

See also

  1. MIND diet may cut Alzheimer's risk
  2. 3 diet changes women over 50 should make right now
  3. 3 key changes in the new Nutrition Facts label
  4. Healthy-eating habits
  5. Reduce sugar in your diet
  6. Acai berries
  7. Added sugar
  8. Alcohol use
  9. Alkaline water
  10. Are energy drinks bull?
  11. Artificial sweeteners and other sugar substitutes
  12. Autism spectrum disorder and digestive symptoms
  13. Bad food habits at work? Get back on track in 5 easy steps
  14. Best oil for cooking?
  15. 2015-2020 Dietary guidelines
  16. Boost your calcium levels without dairy? Yes you can!
  17. Breast-feeding nutrition: Tips for moms
  18. Caffeine: How much is too much?
  19. Is caffeine dehydrating?
  20. Calorie calculator
  21. The role of diet and exercise in preventing Alzheimer's disease
  22. Can whole-grain foods lower blood pressure?
  23. Carbohydrates
  24. Chart of high-fiber foods
  25. Cholesterol: Top foods to improve your numbers
  26. Coconut water: Healthy drink or marketing scam?
  27. Coffee and health
  28. Diet soda: How much is too much?
  29. Dietary fats
  30. Dietary fiber
  31. Prickly pear cactus
  32. Does soy really affect breast cancer risk?
  33. Don't get tricked by these 3 heart-health myths
  34. Don't go cuckoo for coconut water
  35. Make healthy snack choices
  36. Eat more of these key nutrients
  37. Eggs: Bad for cholesterol?
  38. Energy drinks
  39. Fat grams
  40. For a healthy gut, feed the good bugs
  41. Fiber: Soluble or insoluble?
  42. Fish and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs)
  43. Fit more fiber into your diet
  44. Get to know the new Nutrition Facts label
  45. Grape juice health benefits
  46. Guidelines for a good ileostomy diet
  47. Healthy heart for life: Avoiding heart disease
  48. Healthy-eating tip: Don't forget fiber
  49. High-fructose corn syrup
  50. High-protein diets
  51. Alcohol during the holidays: 4 ways to sip smarter
  52. Holiday weight: How to maintain, not gain
  53. How the right diet can help an overactive bladder
  54. Takeout containers
  55. Is there more to hydration than water?
  56. Juicing is no substitute for whole foods
  57. Juicing
  58. Depression and diet
  59. Limit bad fats, one step at a time
  60. Make food labels required reading
  61. Monosodium glutamate (MSG)
  62. MUFAs
  63. Multigrain vs. whole grain
  64. Need a snack? Go nuts!
  65. Need more fiber? Take 3 steps
  66. Nutrition Facts label
  67. Nutrition rules that will fuel your workout
  68. Nuts and your heart: Eating nuts for heart health
  69. Omega-3 in fish
  70. Omega-6 fatty acids
  71. Phenylalanine
  72. Play it safe when taking food to a loved one in the hospital
  73. Protein: Heart-healthy sources
  74. Healthy eating plans
  75. Raw water: Risky fad?
  76. Reduce sugar in your diet
  77. Health foods
  78. Portion control
  79. Planning healthy meals
  80. High-fiber diet
  81. Social eating can be healthy and enjoyable
  82. Sodium
  83. Sodium: Look beyond the saltshaker
  84. Stevia
  85. Tap water or bottled water: Which is better?
  86. Taurine in energy drinks
  87. The best foods for healthy skin
  88. Time to cut back on caffeine?
  89. Time to scale back on salt?
  90. Trans fat
  91. Underweight: Add pounds healthfully
  92. Want a healthier dinnertime? Science says change your eating space
  93. Daily water requirement
  94. Functional foods
  95. What is clean eating?
  96. What's considered moderate alcohol use?
  97. What's the difference between juicing and blending?
  98. Why does diet matter after bariatric surgery?
  99. Working out? Remember to drink up
  100. Yerba mate