HOME > Chowhound > General Topics >


What's in high end chocolate that's healthy?

I was given a sample of a rich, dark chocolate tonight and told that it was healthy for me to eat and might help me reduce my body size...................... What's with that? I never got the chocolate sampler to explain why? to me.

Isn't chocolate, high end or not, patently bad for your health and fattening to consume because of the sugars it contains ? .Please illuminate me.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
    1. Dark chocolate has antioxidants which are good for you but it's still full of calories and fat, high end or not. Adding dark chocolate w/out making any changes to your diet and activity level will not help reduce body size (if that were the case, Americans wouldn't be so overweight, they could just eat dark chocolate and lose weight! ;-p). I do find that a small amount of dark chocolate, 1-2 oz, helps keep off cravings for other junk food. So having it reduces my overall calorie consumption than not. But, that's just me. Good quality dark cocoa has the same antioxidants w/out the fat--but who eats that plain?

      1. Dark chocolate has anti-oxidants that are good for your heart. A friend had a massive heart attack and subsequently worked with a dietician to overhaul his foodways (he's a bachelor and had a pretty typical bachelor's diet). The "OK Foods List" included both dark chocolate and red wine, along with recommended weekly consumption limits. So there is science to back up claims that dark chocolate can be good for your health.

        1. I also read a study that said a small amount of dark chocolate daily can lower blood pressure. It takes 18 weeks though.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Glencora

            Maybe that's why my bp is 90/60...

          2. Good quality dark chocolate (no milk solids & high cacao content such as 65%+ ) can actually be good for you ... or at least benign.

            Yes, cocoa butter is a saturated fat. But it's monosaturated and has been shown to be neutral to bad cholesterol levels and perhaps even have a positive effect on good cholesterol.

            Dark chocolate also has fiber. Not a lot, usually 2-4 grams per ounce, but often more than you'd get in a cookie.

            Dark chocolate also has traces of minerals such as calcium (yes, even dark chocolate has calcium), magnesium, copper & iron (7-8% of your RDA in an ounce).

            Dark chocolate also has protein - 3-4 grams per ounce. This combination of fats, fiber and protein along with the sugar can make even a small amount very satisfying.

            I wouldn't use it as a meal replacement, but as a dessert indulgence, it can certainly be something to consider, especially because of the antioxidants (more than red wine).

            4 Replies
            1. re: typetive

              Please explain what monosaturated fat is. I hear about monoUNsaturated fat a lot, but looking at the different types of saturated fats, I've never heard about the term monosaturated.

              Just want to make sure that I know the right term to do a little more research about the benefits of dark chocolate. Thanks.

              ETA: Perhaps the type of saturated fat you're referring to is stearic acid?
              Definitely a type of saturated fat that's in chocolate......

              (Moderators, PLEASE don't remove this question. I think it's important for accurate information to be posted for people who either take things at face value or want to do more research on a nutrition topic.)

              1. re: 4Snisl

                It's a relative question, 4snisl and I 'm curious to find out as well.

                1. re: 4Snisl

                  I'm not a dietician or anything, I just read a lot of stuff here and there.

                  Here's a good link to a chart on wikipedia that shows the components of many of the saturated fats:


                  Cocoa butter is mostly stearic acid and palmitic acid.

                  Fats and fatty acids are essential to a working body. Fatty acids also have antioxidant properties of their own and can help to preserve the vitamin & bioflavinoids in the cocoa solids.

                  Here's an article that may explain it pretty well:


                  1. re: 4Snisl

                    typetive's post should have said monoUNsaturated fat - there is no such thing as monosaturated. i'm guessing it was an oversight/typo.

                2. Chocolate has many virtues... already outlined including:

                  > Antioxidants
                  > Fiber
                  > HDL boosting fats
                  > Vitamins & Minerals
                  > Amino Acids

                  With that said... added sugars & fats can undermine many of its benefits... but that doesn't prevent you from enjoying chocolate the way I do, and my ancestors did it well with some modern conveniences... start with Valhrona 100% cacao powder... mix it with water & some real vanilla extract or scrapings, a tiny amount of Arbol chile powder, a small pinch of salt, bring to a light boil reduce temp and simmer for 20+ minutes until you can get a beutifully integrated, rich & dark "sap"... a little bit of honey to offset the bitterness & bring out the flavors (about 1 tsp per cup)... and there you go.

                  Some mornings I will have 2 cups of Hot Chocolate with a banana.... and not be hungry until the Afternoon... it really, really sticks to your ribs.

                  10 Replies
                  1. re: Eat_Nopal

                    KILLING THE BROWN GOOSE
                    I have heard that heating reduces /eliminates all that is healthy about cacao powder. However, if you can forgo the benefits for a nifty taste .....boil away. Just don't fool yourself that hot chocolate is delivering your above list of healthy goodness.

                    1. re: fruglescot

                      Really, fruglescot? Can you explain the chemical/physical process that renders the fiber in cocoa/chocolate into some other compound?

                      And those minerals ... really, heat has some sort of alchemical properties to change iron, calcium and magnesium into something else?

                      Where did you hear that heating eliminates all that is healthy from cacao?

                      Care to give us some links to verified studies that show the elimination of all antioxidants, because I'm sure Harvard and Cologne would be interested to see that it's NOT the antioxidants in the chocolate that area providing the positive benefits to the circulatory system like lower blood pressure, better blood sugar balance, improved elasticity of vessels and lower cholesterol.

                      1. re: fruglescot

                        That isn't necessarily true... as with many processing methods... some Anti-oxidants will be concentrate while others will dissipate (not all are water soluble). I once did some grunt work on a research paper regarding Anti-oxidants in various derivatives of grapes (raisins & wine primarily)... and found a parallel situation... the Anti-oxidant profiles of fresh grapes, raisins & wine were all different but miraculously complimentary... to the point that consuming all three type of products was better for you than only consuming only one of them (in the same aggregate quantity).

                        Heating... in addition to concentrating some Anti-oxidants on a per volume basis... also activates some types that would otherwise not be physiological useful to us. You can find a corollary with mammal flesh protein... eating it raw results in very low rates of digestion & absorption (i.e., we pass a very high proportion of it... after its been sitting in our small intestine for days)... but if you cook it gently it breaks the muscle fibers down leading to the maximum protein/amino acid per mass of flesh yield.

                        1. re: Eat_Nopal

                          I'll have to get back to you folks because I do not have the links, as you request, to verified studies. Perhaps I'm just the victim of a hyped sales pitch about the health benefits of cold pressed chocolate versus heated? I'm repeating what I was told and believed to be correct by people I have faith in. I will definitely be asking more questions. Thanks for the challenge. I'm not interested in disseminating false information here or anywhere else

                          1. re: fruglescot

                            I am obviously drawing corollaries here and don't have specific studies and I am too lazy to go through abstracts to find one... but given the low water content of Cacao I do believe that anything that was destroyed in the initial roasting will probably survive a little simmering.

                            Worst case scenario... cold pressing saves some phytochemicals... roasting & simmering activates & concentrates other... have a blend of both methods and you are on your way to becoming superman.

                            With regards to the sales pitches and hype... yeah I worked for the company that made Pomegrantes & Pomegranate Juice popular in the U.S.... I know all about marketing that is conveniently angled based on tangential studies... in other words there are a lot of people out there making some money in a realm of very weak governmental & industry regulation.

                      2. re: Eat_Nopal

                        Just to pipe in here, I recently went on a tour of the Scharffen Berger chocolate factory, and the tour guide said that "Dutch process" cocoa has had all the anti-oxidants stripped out of it. Presumably this is the process that cheaper cocoas use but if you're interested in cocoa value for health you might want to check into it.

                        1. re: Chowpatty

                          Interesting... Dutch processing removes most (if not all of the fat... for Cocoa Butter applications)... the Valhrona powder is NOT Dutch processed... its whole Cacao beans... toasted then ground to fine powder. When I don't use that... I use Trader Joe's 72% Pound Plus which has obviously not been treated with the Dutch process.

                          1. re: Eat_Nopal

                            Just a quick correction -- Valrhona is a dutched/alkalized cooca powder, and dutching does indeed impact the anitoxidant content. Cocoa powder is made using a press to squeeze off more than half of the fat content, leaving a dry, flaky powder (cocoa) on one side and cocoa butter (the removed fat) on the other. Cocoa powders are NOT fat-free -- they usually contain around 15-25% fat, compared to about 50% in the original mass.

                            Dutching as a process has nothing to do with quality or fat--it reduces bitterness and enhances water solubility. There are great dutched powders (like Valrhona's) and great undutched powders (like Sharffen Berger's)--it depends on what your goals are.

                            As a note on the antioxidant levels in chocolate, they are some of the highest of any food -- 13000-14000 ORAC units in 100g of cacao mass.

                            1. re: fqalzai

                              Nope... Vahlrona has several powders... this one is NOT ALKALIZED:


                              1. re: Eat_Nopal

                                The product in that link is the Gastronomie, and it is indeed dutched. There may be others that I don't know about...

                                If you want to prove it to yourself, just take a spoonful of that and a spoonful of Scharffen Berger's and dissolve each in a glass of cold water. The Valrhona will dissolve quite well, while the SB will clump. Also, the color is a giveaway. Here's a link that specifies more details:

                                For what it's worth, Valrhona's Gastronomie cocoa powder is my all-time favorite.

                      3. Very few things are "patently bad for you" -- it's all a matter of how much you eat. Fat and sugar are not inherently unhealthy -- fat is a necessary component of your diet, and sugar isn't unhealthy unless eaten in excess and to the exclusion of more complex forms of carbohydrates.

                        In addition to the already described the healthy components of chocolate, the natural fat in chocolate is saturated fat, but from a plant source which means it won't raise your cholesterol and might even lower it. And the darker (which usually means "high end") the chocolate, the less sugar it has. If you're eating 2,500 calories a day (recommended RDA for adult men), then an ounce of dark chocolate at approximately 180 calories is no big deal. I manage half an ounce of dark chocolate (necessary for my sanity) on my 1500 calories a day diet with no problems.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: Ruth Lafler

                          Cocoa butter is about 1/3 monounsaturated and 1/3 stearic acid, a type of saturated fat that doesn't have an adverse effect on LDL "bad" cholesterol. Dark chocolate (with no added milk fat) has been shown to not adversely affect lipid profiles. That isn't true with all vegetable saturated fats (I wouldn't be eating much palm oil, for example).

                        2. Domori, an Italian brand, makes a 100% eating chocolate without sugar. I haven't tried it yet, but I just ordered a variety pack of Domori from World Wide Chocolate, which includes some of the 100%, and I will report back as to whether it is edible.


                          Here is what the website says: "Puro 100% cocoa mass - Can chocolate exist without sugar? According to the Domori code, an aromatic cacao provides chocolate with the three balances when it is used in 65% to 85% content. Sugar is a basic flavor-enhancing substance, capable of leaving out for a moment the cacao bitterness in order to enhance its aromatic notes. In the Pure we have pushed ourselves beyond any limits in order to find the value of our research. I moulded cacao in the fire and refined it in the void: its pod was opened, its beans were fermented, dried, roasted, shelled, ground, refined and conched. No sugar, no vanilla, no lecithin. Its evolution in the mouth is slow, yet extraordinary; I wouldn't call it chocolate but the cacao pod that I engraved as if it was live stone. It reminds me of another plant which is often grown along with cacao trees: tobacco ... its leaves on the markets of Trinidad and Venezuela ... Cuban puros rich in history. Ingredients100% Cocoa Mass"

                          That said, I think if you buy really high grade chocolate, a square-and-a-half is enough and I can't believe that the sugar in a square and a half of chocolate could kill you. Tonight I tried Michel Cluizel 1st Cru de Plantation - liked it much much better than the supposed high-end chocolate I have picked up at places like Whole Foods and the supermarket. According to the calories on the label, the square and a half that I ate had 40.71 calories. That is a lot less than what I might ordinarily eat for dessert. In fact, it's a lot less than a lot of vile tasting "diet" desserts.

                          I used to think that I was just not a chocolate person, but now that I have tried Michel Cluziel chocolate,I think it may be that I had never really had good chocolate before. (Still I would choose vanilla ice cream over chocolate).

                          4 Replies
                          1. re: omotosando

                            My sugarless Domoni chocolate never arrived, as World Wide Chocolate substituted other Domoni. The Domoni that was sent was quite good, and each square was individually wrapped, which is always good for portion control.

                            I did get ahold of Michel Cluziel Noir Infini 99, which is 99% chocolate - sugar is listed in the ingredients, but it must be a miniscule amount. I found it unpalatable as an eating chocolate. I think a dollop of sugar must be necessary to balance the chocolate.

                            1. re: omotosando

                              I've been trying quite a few of the high cacao chocolates lately and have found that truly unsweetened chocolate isn't really much of a treat for me. (The Bonnat was just plain old bitter.)

                              The highest cacao that I've eaten that was edible was the Guittard Nocturne 91%. It's very strong on the vanilla, which I think helps to boost the sweet feeling on the tongue.

                              1. re: omotosando

                                Thanks for that information on the Michael Cluziel bar omotosando. At around $6 each one likes to know these things before ordering

                                1. re: fruglescot

                                  70% ! That's all you need! I suspect 60% is probably a bit beneficial too. no need to make it unpleasant! i am also not a fan of the super high cocoa chocolates.

                            2. its good for you because there is so much flavor it is possible to only have one or two bites and still have tasted something. `As dessert, it really finishes off a meal without having to continually go to town.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: drdawn

                                I really like Michel Cluizel's chocolates too. A small piece of good-quality dark chocolate goes a long way and satisfies my chocolate craving. Their bonbons are awesome as well.

                              2. I'm reading Michael Pollan's "In Defense of Food" and came across this excerpt, which reminded me of this thread:

                                "A whole subcategory of nutritional science--funded by industry and, according to one recent analysis, remarkably reliable in its ability to find a health benefit in whatever food it has been commissioned to study--has sprung up to give a nutritionist sheen (and FDA approved health claim) to all sorts of foods, including some not ordinarily thought of as healthy. The Mars Corporation recently endowed a chair in chocolate science at the University of California at Davis, where research on the antioxidant properties of cacao is making breakthroughs, so it shouldn't be long before we see chocolate bars bearing FDA-approved health claims. (When we do, nutritionism will surely have entered its baroque phase.) Fortunately for everyone playing this game, scientists can find an antioxidant in just about any plant-based food they choose to study."

                                4 Replies
                                1. re: JoanN

                                  "Fortunately for everyone playing this game, scientists can find an antioxidant in just about any plant-based food they choose to study."

                                  1) Cacao is one of the most phytochemically dense foods... so be careful about trivializing it.

                                  2) It is true... all Plant foods have antioxidants & beneficial phytochemicals. Sure some companies are going to do studies & exploit the results as special... I know I helped start up the company that popularized Pomegrantes & Pomegranate juice. However, anti-oxidants really are good for you... the reason we are hearing more & more about them (other than the profit potential) is because we haven't known about them for that long (well at least the scientists didn't understand them). For so many decades, the limited linear thinking of the Western Scientific process perpetuate the false myth that nutrition could be reduced to simply calculations of Calories, Protein, Fat, Carbs, Fiber, Vitamins & Minerals.... now we understand that its so much more complex... and that there is lots of really good stuff found in foods that were never given much thought in the past.... Cinammon & other Spices, Green Tea, Nopales, Mushrooms & other vegetables that aren't dense in Vitamins or Minerals but very rich in fibers & phytochemicals... we are now beginning to prove to the dense scientists that all natural, non-toxic foods are valuable and should be consumed.

                                  Ultimately you have to sit back & laugh at all the scientists running around like mice trying to understand something that is pretty simple (at least from a Holistic perspective).

                                  1) If you are religious.... then you can belive that your God or Gods provided humans with everything they need to be healthy... they just need to consume these things in the balance that God or Gods provided it before humans began meddling to much (i.e., industrialization & urbanization etc.,)

                                  2) If you are more of an evolution type, then its pretty straightforward to believe that over the last 125,000 years our species spent the vast majority of the time as Hunter-Gatherers adapting to nature's balance (i.e., no processed snacks ready for the taking, or meat 3 times per day)... our bodies (at the bio chemical level) evolved to be nature's "parasites" meaning we found good uses for all the phytochemicals & macro nutrients available to us... only producing for ourselves (hormones etc.,) those things we couldn't consume & adapt for that most complex of information Programs known as Homo Sapiens.

                                  In either case its about trying to get back to more ancient balance that allowed us to flourish as a species.

                                  1. re: Eat_Nopal

                                    Or, as Pollan also says, "Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants."

                                    1. re: JoanN

                                      Nah, that's to simple and sensible. And unAmerican! Just think of all the industries that would collapse if people took that advice to heart!

                                      1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                        "Just think of all the industries that would collapse if people took that advice to heart"!

                                        .......and all the pants that would collapse along with high blood pressure readings as waistlines were trimmed by more whole food less fast food selections.

                                2. JoanN and Eat_Nopal
                                  I think you both make relevant points. I am a former victim of the food industry's propaganda to consume high protein, low cal, low fat, hydrogenized, super saturated etc. processed products. Now I try and educate myself and make intelligent yet pleasing food selctions from the whole foods categories that satisfy numerous facets. God eating habits are too central to health and function to be relegated to others, just spontaneous and/or to convenience considerations.
                                  My daily intake includes pure pomegranate juice, as you'll be pleased to know and shortly, a small quantity of high quality, 'cacao' rich, healthy chocolate.
                                  thanks for participating in the conversation

                                  1. I found this on the Theo Chocolate site:


                                    It lists antioxidant levels of their dark chocolate compared to other foods.

                                    (The Ghana bar did get very high marks, but I found it far too bitter to be enjoyable for eating straight.)