Chocolate is a sweet confection made from cocoa beans. Its nutritional data (fat, calories, sugar, etc.) depends on the type you choose.While chocolate may provide some benefits, moderation is key to keeping this sweet treat on the healthier side.
Chocolate Nutrition Facts
The following nutrition information is provided by the USDAfor a 1.4-ounce bar(41g) of sweet or dark chocolate:
Most varieties of chocolate are high in sugar, therefore also being high in carbohydrates. A single serving of standard chocolate, sweet or dark, contains 25 grams of carbohydrates, 20 grams of which are sugar. Roughly 2 to 3 grams are in the form of fiber.
While chocolate, in general, has a medium glycemic index (GI) rating, if it's made with sugar substitutes, the GI rating might be lower. Chocolate that contains certain spices (such as cinnamon or coriander) may have a lower GI rating as well.
Chocolate is a significant source of fat, providing nearly 14 grams per serving. Most of this fat is saturated fat, which is the type that can raise "bad" cholesterol levels. There are small amounts of polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fat in chocolate, as well.
Chocolate provides some protein—about 2 grams per serving. Though it's not uncommon to see chocolate as an ingredient in high-protein dietary supplements such as bars, shakes, and powders, it is added as a flavoring versus being a major contributor to the product's protein content.
Vitamins and Minerals
Chocolate is not a significant source of vitamins and minerals. That said, you will get small amounts of some nutrients, including vitamin B12, copper, manganese, phosphorus, iron, magnesium, and calcium.
A typical chocolate bar provides a few hundred calories. As you might expect, the total calorieswilldepend on what else is in the treat.If it contains nuts, for example, its calorie count can be even higher.
The calories in chocolate are often referred to as empty calories, or foods that provide energy primarily in the form of added sugar and unhealthy fats. USDA guidelines recommend limiting sugar to 10% of your daily calories, keeping saturated fat below this level as well.
Despite some of chocolate's nutritional shortcomings, adding this food to your diet (in moderation) mayprovide some health benefits.
Improves Heart Health
Cocoa is rich in flavanols, a category of flavonoids that, as a polyphenol, contain antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Flavanols specifically are a naturally-occurring compound found in plants that have been shown to improve blood flowand lower blood pressure.
It should be noted that, as cocoa beans are processed, health benefits are minimized. For this reason, choosing minimally processed chocolate helps promote the possible benefits of flavonoids. Usually, dark chocolate is the best choice.
The flavanols and methylxanthines in cocoa and chocolate have been known to help enhance mood. In fact, individuals eating chocolate have been found to have a 57% lower risk of depressive symptoms than those who avoid this sweet entirely.
Want to get the most out of your chocolate? The ability of this food to boost positive mood is increased even more when you enjoy this treat mindfully (as opposed to non-mindful eating, or eating on 'auto-pilot'). So, feel free to savor every bite.
Increases Brain Power
One study involved 32 subjects who were sleep-deprived, some of whom were given chocolate and the other acting as a control. The group that ate chocolate had better working memories, potentially by counteracting the physiological effects of sleep deprivation.
May Decrease Cholesterol
Certain types of chocolate may help decrease cholesterol. After consuming 30 grams of dark chocolate for 28 days, subjects assigned to a group in which the chocolate contained lycopene had lower total cholesterol and "bad" cholesterol levels. They also had a decrease in serum triglycerides.
May Aid in Weight Loss
Scientists have also looked for evidence of chocolate as a weight-loss tool, with some finding positive results. For example, one study found a correlation between eating dark chocolate and feelings of fullness. The more full you feel, the less you might eat overall, creating a calorie deficit.
In another study, researchers observed that chocolate eaters had a lowerbody mass index (BMI)than non-chocolate eaters. It appears that one of the keys to chocolate contributing to weight loss is associating this food with feelings of celebration versus feelings of guilt.
Body Mass Index (BMI) is a dated, biased measure that doesn’t account for several factors, such as body composition, ethnicity, race, gender, and age.
Despite being a flawed measure, BMI is widely used today in the medical community because it is an inexpensive and quick method for analyzing potential health status and outcomes.
True allergies to cocoa are rare according to theAmerican Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology (AAAAI). However, it is possible to have an allergic reaction to chocolate because of ingredients, such as tree nuts or dairy, that are used to process it.
Oils used to make chocolate products may also produce allergic reactions. The AAAAI further notes that "hidden allergens such as insect parts have also been found to be present in chocolate."
See a healthcare provider if you suspect that you may be allergic to chocolate or any of its ingredients.
Even though chocolate might provide some health benefits, it is still a significant source of saturated fat and sugar. Too much saturated fat can lead to heart disease and obesity-related diseases. Consuming too much added sugar has the same effect.
Some people find that eating chocolate triggers migraine pain or aggravates their acid reflux. To help avoid these adverse issues, choose a chocolate that is 70% cacao or higher and enjoy it more as a treat than a regular part of your eating plan.
There are a variety of options when it comes to chocolate. Here are a few popular chocolate treats and their nutrition information as provided by the USDA:
- A Lindt Milk Chocolate Truffle Ball (12 grams) provides roughly 77 calories, 6 grams of fat, 4 grams of saturated fat, 5 grams of carbohydrates, and 5 grams of sugar.
- One packet of M&Ms Chocolate Candy(100 grams) provides 492 calories,21 grams of fat, 13 grams of saturated fat, 71 grams of carbohydrates, and 64 grams of sugar.
- One 7.3-ounce envelope of Swiss Miss Hot Chocolate (21 grams) provides90 calories,2 grams of fat,2 grams of saturated fat, 16 grams of carbohydrates, and 11 grams of sugar.
- One Hershey's Bliss Dark Chocolate bar (43 grams) provides210 calories,14 grams of fat,9 grams of saturated fat, 25 grams of carbohydrates, and 20 grams of sugar.
- A 40-gram portion of Dove Dark Chocolate Promises provides 210 calories, 13 grams of fat, 8 grams of saturated fat, 24 grams of carbohydrates, and 19 grams of sugar.
When It's Best
The cocoa beans from which chocolate are derived are actually seeds of a pod-like fruit that grows on thecacao treein tropical areas near the Equator.They can be harvested any time, but the two main periods are October to February and May to August.
Since making chocolate involves processing these cocoa beans, it is available all year long in almost any grocery or retail store. Here, you can purchase chocolate that has been made into candies, "couverture" chocolate you can melt to dip fruit into, powdered chocolate for beverages, and more.
Storage and Food Safety
Buy chocolate in small quantities because it tastes best when it is fresh out of the package. Store it in a dark place at room temperature. Do not refrigerate chocolate as it can cause discoloration and may even pick up the flavors of other items in your fridge.
Chocolate can be frozen, although some connoisseurs recommend against it. If you freeze your chocolate, make sure it is tightly wrapped before putting it in the freezer. Once you're ready to eat it, thaw it at room temperature.
If you find it difficult to control your chocolate consumption, store it hidden away in a cupboard or on a high shelf so you don't see it all the time.Then take just a single serving when you are in the mood for something sweet.
How to Prepare
Chocolate can be part of a healthy diet. So, if you're trying to clean up your eating habits to slim down, there's no need to toss out your favorite treats. Instead, you can learn to manage your "chocolate habit" so that youcan still achieve your health and fitness goals.
Tokeep your calorie balance in control, eat a portion-controlled amount.Chocolate-covered fruit or a small cup of skim hot chocolate are lower-calorie ways to satisfy your cravings. And if you can, choose dark chocolate. It has a richer taste than milk chocolate and may satisfy your craving with a smaller serving.
Here are a few low-calorie ways to enjoy chocolate:
- Eat a small piece after dinner for some satisfying sweetness.A small piece of dark chocolate (7.6 grams) is around 40 calories.
- Make your own hot cocoa.Dissolve 1.5 tablespoons of unsweetened cocoa powder and 1 teaspoon of mini semi-sweet chocolate chips in a quarter cup of extra hot water. Add a half cup of fat-free milk and another quarter cup water, then microwave until hot. Stir in a no-calorie sweetener and you've got a99-caloriecup of rich chocolatey deliciousness.
- Toss some chocolate protein powder into a low-cal smoothie or shake.At least you're getting some protein when you prepare your chocolate in this way.
- Use mini semi-sweet chocolate chips as anoatmealadd-in.They'll get all melty and amazing!
How does chocolate benefit your health? ›
Chocolate is especially rich in flavanols like epicatechin and catechin, as well as anthocyanins and phenolic acids. All of these compounds help protect your cells from inflammation, improve your brain function, and boost your immune and cardiovascular health.What is the main nutrients in chocolate? ›
Nutrition. Dark chocolate is a rich source of fiber, loaded with iron, magnesium, zinc, copper, and other minerals. You'll get the most flavanols from chocolate that's 70% or more dark.How much chocolate is good for health? ›
Nutritionists recommend consuming chocolate often, in small portions. The daily allowance for adult men and women without health problems is 30-50 grams of dark chocolate every day. With high physical exertion, an increase in the norm by 1.5 times is allowed.What does chocolate do for your brain? ›
Several studies demonstrated evidence of improved brain blood flow, oxygen levels, or nerve function as measured by imaging tests or tests of electrical activity in the brain after the consumption of cocoa drinks.Which chocolate is the healthiest? ›
Dark chocolate is best for you because it's the least processed chocolate, which means it contains the highest percentage of flavonoid-filled cocoa bean (cocoa).Why is chocolate a Superfood? ›
person taking bite of chocolate bar
"Dark chocolate absolutely is considered a superfood. It has fiber, iron, magnesium, potassium, and zinc, to name a few key nutrients. It also packs a powerful antioxidant punch, containing flavanols and polyphenols among others, which have been linked to heart health.
It is a precursor to serotonin, which inspires feeling of happiness. Also present is phenylethlyamine, a type of amphetamine, that "gives you a feeling of contentment … and mimics the effect of being in love," according to Ramadan. Theobromine is a stimulant responsible for the "buzz" you get after eating chocolate.What happens if you eat chocolate everyday? ›
It is a high-energy (high calorie) food, and too much can result in excess weight, a risk factor for cardiovascular disease.Is chocolate good for inflammation? ›
70% cocoa dark chocolate is rich in antioxidants, which have some major anti-inflammatory effects. Flavanols help to reduce inflammation and keep the cells that line the arteries healthy. Antioxidants fight inflammation and free radicals, which can help your immunity and reduce your risk of disease.What your body needs when you crave chocolate? ›
You're not getting enough magnesium
We need magnesium to help turn the food we eat into energy. As dark chocolate is high in magnesium, some argue that chocolate cravings stem from a magnesium deficiency.
Is chocolate good for the heart? ›
Chocolate is high in magnesium, which helps regulate your cardiovascular system. Antioxidants in chocolate help clear plaque out of the arteries, reducing the risk of heart disease. Flavonoids found in chocolate may lower blood pressure and improve your blood flow overall.Which chocolate percentage is the most important for the best health benefits? ›
Your best bet is choosing a bar with 70 percent cacao or higher, according to the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health; bars with lower percentages of cacao have more added sugar and unhealthy fats.How much chocolate is enough a day? ›
How much chocolate can I eat a day? Experts say the recommended “dose” is approximately 1 to 2 ounces or 30-60g. Indulge in anything more than that, and you may be consuming too many calories. A 1.45-ounce (41 gram) Hershey's Special Dark Chocolate Bar has 190 calories.Can we eat chocolate everyday? ›
Could Exceed Safe Heavy Metal Consumption. While dark chocolate can have positive effects on your health, a 2022 study by Consumer Reports found that eating dark chocolate everyday could be harmful for adults, children and pregnant people.Is chocolate good for dementia? ›
While the process of creating cocoa and chocolate can often reduce the flavanol content, flavanol-rich cocoa or chocolate may improve cognitive function for elderly people. The benefits, however, are very small and specific. Whether it can protect against dementia is even less clear.Does chocolate improve memory? ›
In summary, this research shows that 70% cocoa dark chocolate consumption can benefit verbal episodic memory two hours post consumption in healthy young adults relative to a white chocolate control.Does chocolate help you sleep? ›
Chocolate also contains tryptophan, which stimulates serotonin and melatonin. And serotonin and melatonin are believed to help sleep.Is chocolate good for high blood pressure? ›
Most dark chocolate is high in flavonoids, particularly a subtype called flavanols that is associated with a lower risk of heart disease. Some studies suggest chocolate or cocoa consumption is associated with a lower risk of insulin resistance and high blood pressure in adults.Is chocolate healthier than Apple? ›
An apple is a healthier snack because it has more nutritional value than chocolate — and a fraction of the calories. Apples contain vitamins and minerals that are essential to healthy growth and development, as well as brain functioning, heart health, and our bodies' other daily needs.What chocolate I can eat everyday? ›
So, out of all dark chocolate is the healthiest type of chocolate because it does not contain sugar and has the highest amount of cocoa. Excessive consumption of anything is harmful to health, whether it is veggies or chocolate. One must not eat more than 30 to 60 grams of chocolate in a day.
What are 3 health benefits of eating dark chocolate? ›
Dark chocolate is packed full of important minerals, including iron, magnesium, zinc, copper and phosphorus. In your body, these minerals are used to support factors such as immunity (zinc), can help keep your bones and teeth healthy (phosphorus), and contribute to better sleep quality (magnesium).Why is chocolate healthier than fruit? ›
The research into dark chocolate, containing around 60 per cent cocoa, and cocoa drinks found that they too had more antioxidant activity and more flavanols-health-giving plant chemicals-than fruit.Is chocolate healthier than meat? ›
Chocolate contains a healthier blend of fats than meats do.What hormone is released when you eat chocolate? ›
Four chemicals are known to be released by the brain when eating chocolate: endorphins, serotonin, dopamine, and oxytocin. These chemicals are used by neurons to communicate with one another.Why does my brain crave chocolate? ›
Sometimes chocolate cravings can be easily explained: You're just hungry. When your body is hungry, it craves fast carbohydrates like refined sugars. Unfortunately, most processed chocolate is high on the glycemic index, which means that it gives you a quick, but temporary sugar rush.Is chocolate an Antidepressant? ›
In the end, the association remained. Once more, those who ate the largest quantities of chocolate had the lowest rates of depression. It did not take much dark chocolate to achieve these antidepressant effects. On average, the consumers of dark chocolate ate only 12 grams a day, a little less than half an ounce.What should I eat after eating chocolate? ›
Have fruit at the ready. Fruit is a fantastic, portable, healthy snack. It's sweet but with the nutritious packaging of water, fibre, antioxidants and vitamins. Grab a banana in the afternoon for a great pick-me-up or nibble on a punnet of berries after dinner for dessert.What happens if you eat chocolate before bed? ›
The bad news
Chocolate contains caffeine, the enemy of a good night's rest. In fact, the more cacao there is in a bar of chocolate, the more caffeine it contains, which is a chemical responsible for making us feel alert and disrupting our sleep.
“The effects continue through a two-hour period after consumption, and we have ongoing research studying the amount of dark chocolate needed to consume relative to the number and amount of benefits.”What is the number one food to fight inflammation? ›
green leafy vegetables, such as spinach, kale, and collards. nuts like almonds and walnuts. fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, tuna, and sardines. fruits such as strawberries, blueberries, cherries, and oranges.
What reduces inflammation fast? ›
To reduce inflammation fast, limit your intake of sugar and processed foods. Perhaps, more importantly, though, pursue exercise, stress-reducing behaviors, a good night's sleep, and a diet full of colorful, anti-inflammatory foods.What is the most inflammatory food? ›
- Red meat and processed meats, including bacon, hot dogs, lunch meats and cured meats.
- Refined grains, including white bread, white rice, pasta and breakfast cereals.
- Snack foods, including chips, cookies, crackers and pastries.
- Sodas and other sweetened drinks.
- pumpkin seeds, 30g — 156mg.
- chia seeds, 30g — 111mg.
- almonds, 30g — 80mg.
- spinach, boiled, ½ cup — 78mg.
- cashews, 30g — 74mg.
- peanuts, ¼ cup — 63mg.
- soymilk, 1 cup — 61mg.
- rolled oats, cooked in unsalted water, 100g — 29mg.
According to health experts, food cravings in some cases may be indicators of nutritional deficiencies. This explains why you crave fatty foods and sugary treats while on a diet. As an example, chocolate cravings are often a sign of magnesium deficiency.What can I replace chocolate with? ›
- Fruit. What better way to satisfy a sweet craving while still staying within a healthy eating plan than with fruit. ...
- Raw, Organic Honey. ...
- Banana Ice Cream. ...
- Nuts. ...
- Dark Chocolate (at least >70% cacao) ...
- Frozen berries. ...
- Organic peanut butter. ...
- Greek yogurt.
- Lowers Blood Pressure. Substances called flavanols in cocoa work like blood pressure-lowering drugs called ACE inhibitors. ...
- Prevents Liver Damage. ...
- Boosts 'Good Cholesterol' ...
- Keeps Your Heart Healthy. ...
- Makes You Feel Good. ...
- Boosts Brain Power. ...
- Keeps You Slim. ...
- Makes You A Genius (Maybe…)
- 10 Fun Facts About Chocolate You Never Knew! ...
- Chocolate is a fruit! ... ...
- It takes approximately 400 beans to make 1lb (or 454g) of chocolate! ...
- The average Theobroma Cacao tree produces 2500 beans each season. ...
- Farmers have to wait 4-5 years before the Theobroma Cacao tree is mature enough to yield fruit (aka chocolate).
Daily consumption of dark chocolate can reduce LDL ("bad cholesterol") levels. Chocolate can help reduce the risk of heart disease by as much as 30 percent, and the risk of dying from a stroke by nearly 50 percent. Studies even show that eating chocolate at least once per week can improve cognitive functioning.Is chocolate good for clogged arteries? ›
It may improve cholesterol levels.
Those who got the dark chocolate lowered their “bad” LDL cholesterol—the type that clogs arteries and slows the flow of blood—by about 12%.
A standard 43 g bar of Hershey's milk chocolate contains 13 g of fat, 24 g of sugar and 210 calories. Eating this product in high quantities could lead to weight gain, and being overweight can increase the risk of numerous health problems, including hypertension, diabetes and heart disease.
Can chocolate raise your cholesterol? ›
Dark chocolate contains some stearic acid and this has led to claims that chocolate does not raise blood cholesterol. Unfortunately, dark chocolate also contains saturated fats which do raise cholesterol.Which chocolate is best for immune system? ›
Dark chocolate contains an antioxidant called theobromine , which may help to boost the immune system by protecting the body's cells from free radicals.
Fast facts on chocolate
Chocolate consumption has long been associated with conditions such as diabetes, coronary heart disease, and hypertension. Chocolate is believed to contain high levels of antioxidants. Some studies have suggested chocolate could lower cholesterol levels and prevent memory decline.
Instead of 'diabetic' chocolate, try choosing good-quality dark chocolate (70% cocoa is best). It has a stronger taste than milk chocolate, so you are likely to eat a bit less. Decide how much you are going to eat and put the rest of the chocolate away, out of reach.Is it healthy to eat chocolate everyday? ›
What happens if you eat chocolate every day? Chocolate receives a lot of bad press because of its high fat and sugar content. Its consumption could be associated with acne, obesity, high blood pressure, coronary artery disease, and diabetes.What does not eating chocolate do to your body? ›
According to a 2018 research study, it was found that diets that are high in sugar can put you at a greater risk of developing non-fatty liver disease. By decreasing your chocolate intake you can help lower your risk of this illness while also lessening your risk of both diabetes and obesity along the way.Does chocolate affect blood pressure? ›
Some studies suggest chocolate or cocoa consumption is associated with a lower risk of insulin resistance and high blood pressure in adults.Can chocolate raise blood pressure? ›
Polyphenols, in particular flavanols in cocoa products, have been shown to increase the formation of endothelial nitric oxide, which promotes vasodilation and consequently may lower blood pressure [6-8].Can you live on a diet of chocolate? ›
Although you can't live on a diet of chocolate alone, most people can still incorporate it into a healthy eating plan. These bite-size treats are high in calories (about 150 calories per ounce) so stick to a small quantity to satisfy your craving.How long does it take chocolate to get out of your system? ›
Humans can easily digest and excrete methylxanthines, the half life of theobromine being 2-3 hours.