The question “Is chocolate healthy or unhealthy?” is met by many with a clear “Unhealthy!” answered. But that doesn't apply to all chocolates. Because chocolates made from pure cocoa, so-called 100 percent chocolates, are actually very beneficial to your health. If you want to focus on your health when it comes to your diet and don't want to make any compromises when it comes to chocolate, be sure to read on and find out more about the healthy ingredients in cocoa and the health benefits of consuming 100 percent chocolate.
What is 100 percent chocolate?
Let's first clarify the central question of what 100 percent chocolate actually is: chocolate that is 100% cocoa-based, with 0% non-cocoa ingredients. If you find “cocoa butter” listed on the ingredient list for 100 percent chocolate, the chocolate is still 100 percent chocolate. Even if the name butter suggests otherwise, it is simply the extracted fat from the cocoa bean. Cocoa butter is therefore not a non-cocoa product. And logically, chocolates made from 100 percent cocoa are naturally vegan and sugar-free because no additives such as milk powder or sweeteners have been added.
To return to the health benefits of 100 percent chocolate: Did you know that cocoa is a real superfood and that there are numerous positive health effects associated with the consumption of chocolate? Insofar as non-cocoa additives were not added - or only in moderation. Ultimately, it is always these non-cocoa additives that make chocolate unhealthy. (You can read here why we aren't big fans of soy lecithin in chocolate, for example.) Sugar in particular is known to be anything but healthy. It promotes obesity, diabetes and can increase inflammation levels in the body, to name just a few negative properties. And the lower the cocoa content, the higher the sugar content.
Enjoying chocolate without sugar makes perfect sense from a health perspective. Because this way you can benefit 100 percent from the healthy ingredients in chocolate.
Would you like to know which cocoa components are healthy and what health benefits come with consuming 100 percent chocolate? Be sure to read on!
Healthy minerals and trace elements in chocolate
Basically, the cocoa in chocolate contains numerous healthy ingredients. It contains minerals and trace elements such as calcium, potassium, phosphorus, iron and copper.
And: the vital mineral magnesium. Magnesium has an anti-inflammatory effect, promotes heart health and activates over 300 enzymes. It can relieve headaches and relaxes the muscles. A true all-rounder! And cocoa is actually one of the best sources of magnesium. For example, 100 g of low-fat cocoa powder contains 400 mg of magnesium and 100 g of chocolate with a 70 percent cocoa content contains 230 mg of magnesium. The healthy 100 percent chocolate therefore contains significantly more of the important mineral.
The absolute superheroes for health: flavanoids in chocolate
Cocoa also contains numerous healthy antioxidants, the flavanoids. From a health perspective, they are absolute superheroes and have a positive effect on our health in a variety of ways:
Chocolate is healthy for the heart
Have you ever heard that? What sounds like a strange old wives' tale is actually true. The flavanoids contained in cocoa are responsible. These improve vascular function, reduce the pressure on the arteries and thus promote vascular relaxation. This prevents cardiovascular diseases. Healthy chocolate, especially made from 100 percent cocoa, vegan and without sugar, but with extra flavanoids, is actually good for the heart!
100% chocolate can prevent diabetes
Another fact proven in studies is that consuming chocolate can counteract the development of diabetes. In this case, the chocolate must of course have a low or no sugar content so that the positive properties have an effect on health. The flavanoids in chocolate are also responsible for this positive effect on health. A subgroup of these, the flavanols, have a positive effect on glucose tolerance. Glucose tolerance describes the body's ability to regulate blood sugar levels and keep them stable. Improving glucose tolerance by consuming flavanols, which are found in high levels in healthy, sugar-free chocolate, can therefore help prevent diabetes.
The chocolate diet: How you can lose weight with 100 percent chocolate
Lose weight with chocolate? Sounds strange, but it's true! This was found in studies with mice. Mice that were fed high-fat food and at the same time the flavanoids contained in cocoa gained less weight than the mice in the control group that only received the high-fat food. It turned out that flavanoids inhibit weight gain. So if you eat healthy chocolate with a high cocoa content and largely avoid sugar, it could help you melt away unwanted fat deposits.
Apart from that, there is also the chocolate diet, which various celebrities also swear by. You can find out more about this in our blog post “ Losing weight with chocolate – what’s behind the myth? ”.
Flavanoids counteract memory loss
In fact, the flavanols that have already been mentioned several times help to improve the activity of certain areas of the brain. According to a team of researchers at Harvard University, just two cups of cocoa per day can help. This means that the areas are better supplied with blood, which specifically prevents memory loss in older people. Memory performance is increased and the brain is even demonstrably rejuvenated!
Chocolate and cholesterol: the good goes up, the bad goes down!
As researchers at the University of Hull in England discovered, the flavonoids contained in dark chocolate in particular are beneficial for cholesterol levels. In a crossover study, participants who had type 2 diabetes were given chocolate with a high proportion of phytochemicals, i.e. chocolate with a higher cocoa content. Compared to the control group, which was given less flavanoid-rich chocolate, the total cholesterol level in the test group fell. At the same time, good cholesterol increased. These results were also confirmed in a second study from Sand Diege State University. Dark chocolate is also healthy, especially if you want to keep an eye on your cholesterol levels.
Theobromine: Another top player in the healthy ingredients of chocolate
The ingredient theobromine in chocolate also has some positive health effects. And first of all: dark chocolate with a high or pure cocoa content also shines here because it contains significantly more of the substance.
Chocolate lifts your mood and increases libido
Here is a short introduction to the ingredient theobromine. This substance is one of the psychoactive substances with a stimulating effect. It is structurally similar to caffeine and acts like a milder form of the well-known stimulant. Theobromine has a slightly stimulating and mood-enhancing effect. So try eating a piece of chocolate to counteract the well-known afternoon slump. In the best case scenario, this will not only make you more awake, but also happier. :-)
And chocolate doesn't just make you happy and alert. Libido can also be increased. However, this is due to the arginine it contains. As already mentioned, chocolate helps improve blood flow to the brain. The arginine it contains also contributes to better overall blood circulation, including to the sexual organs, which can have an aphrodisiac effect. By the way: Cocoa was already considered an effective aphrodisiac by the Maya more than 500 years ago.
Theobromine in chocolate can help against tooth decay
Chocolate against tooth decay? Now it's getting absurd... But here too, the scientific facts speak for themselves. A 2012 study by researchers at the University of Texas found that theobromine can help remineralize and strengthen tooth enamel, even more effectively than fluoride. Of course, the sugar in conventional chocolate is very harmful to the teeth and cancels out the positive effect of the theobromine it contains. Because 100 percent chocolate contains no sugar, theobromine can develop (all of its) positive properties.
We describe the positive properties of theobromine on dental health in more detail in the blog post " Theobromine against tooth decay, will chocolate soon replace toothpaste? ".
Chocolate during pregnancy to prevent pregnancy poisoning
A nice side effect of chocolate that is interesting for pregnant women: Chocolate can help prevent pregnancy poisoning. This was the result of a study at Yale University. Accordingly, women who regularly eat dark chocolate are significantly less likely to suffer from this disease.
Conclusion: Chocolate is healthy – at least with a high cocoa content!
We hope we were able to increase your desire for chocolate even more from a health perspective. :-) Because the results of various studies confirm that our favorite treat, chocolate, is anything but unhealthy. Especially if you rely on chocolate made from pure cocoa. At this point, however, we think it is important to note that although cocoa is healthy, chocolate should only be consumed in moderation and a balanced diet is essential for a healthy lifestyle.
Incidentally, chocolates made from 100 percent cocoa are not necessarily bitter. You can also find exciting cocoa flavors and aromas in these. Nutty, fruity and floral, these chocolates offer you an exciting spectrum of aromas that are worth exploring. By the way, you can find a great selection of finely curated 100 percent chocolates in our chocolate shop !
Are you new to the 100 percent chocolate team and looking for tips and tricks? You'll find what you're looking for in our blog post " Everything you need to know about 100% chocolate "!
Are you not a fan of 100 percent chocolate? That doesn't mean that all of your chocolate options are inherently unhealthy. However, we at Theyo recommend that you always pay attention to a short list of ingredients when looking for chocolate. Not just for health reasons - the less sugar and other non-cocoa stuff there is, the healthier the chocolate is - but also from a quality perspective. Because good chocolate doesn't need a lot of fanfare to be delicious. And dark chocolates with, for example, “only” 70 percent cocoa content contain many of the positive properties that we have listed in this article and are significantly milder than the 100 percent alternative. In this context, too, we would like to refer you again to our shop , where you can find the finest bean-to-bar fine chocolate with different cocoa contents and in a wide variety of varieties! In addition to delicious chocolates, there are also other cocoa snacks , drinking chocolates as well as finely curated sample packages and gift sets with delicious bean-to-bar chocolates!
FAQ on the topic of “healthy chocolate”
Which chocolate is safe to eat?
From a health perspective, 100 percent chocolate is safe. But other chocolates, especially those with a high cocoa content, are also completely harmless from a health perspective as long as you consume them in moderation.
Is 85% chocolate healthy?
Chocolates with a high cocoa content are generally healthier than milk chocolate or white chocolate. But even with dark chocolate, for example with 85 percent cocoa content, you should check the list of ingredients to make sure that no unhealthy additives other than cocoa have been added.
Which dark chocolate is healthy?
Basically, the higher the cocoa content, the healthier the chocolate. Because cocoa itself is super healthy! However, added sugar, artificial flavors and non-cocoa fats are unhealthy.
Header photo by © Latitude Craft Chocolate