Is dark chocolate actually good for you?

As a generally healthy eater, I have always enjoyed the said health benefits of dark chocolate. Though, as I thought about the cocoa treat more, I wasn’t sold on the idea that the dark chocolate is all that healthy for you. I decided to do some digging.

At face value, dark chocolate contains many great nutrients that are listed directly on the nutrition label. BUT, this only counts if the dark chocolate is made with a high content of cocoa. I found a layout of what nutrition a 100 gram of dark chocolate contains through a food nutrition site, Authority Nutrition, which is an evidence based site that lists all of the nutrition facts about foods that we consume on a daily basis. The site states that a 100g bar of dark chocolate contains about 11 grams of fiber, 58% of magnesium, and 98% manganese. To confirm these numbers, I went to another nutrition site, Self Nutrition Data, which is another site that states facts about the foods we consume, which confirmed that the same numbers were valid for a 100 gram bar of dark chocolate. Self Nutrition Data declared that the vitamin content for a 100 gram bar of dark chocolate included a 58% DV of Magnesium, 67% DV of Iron, and a 98% DV of Manganese.

Both websites matched with information about fiber content and calories. Comparing the two nutrition fact sites, the numbers are almost exact for each vitamin and mineral, therefore I think that the information is valid.

At face value, dark chocolate holds a large amount of vitamins and nutrients, as shown by the data from a 100 gram bar. Kris Gunnar’s article about 7 Proven Health Benefits of Dark Chocolate includes an interesting point, saying that 100 grams is a lot of chocolate to indulge in during one day, and that the 100 gram bar comes packed with about 600 calories. He suggests that dark chocolate is best enjoyed in moderation. That makes sense. Although dark chocolate comes with many health benefits, it also comes with not so great benefits (sugar, calories) that need to be split up between enjoyments.

With the nutrients that dark chocolate provides, is it possible that the cocoa-filled treat could cause significant changes in health?

In this particular context, the null hypothesis would state that dark chocolate would make no changes to a person’s health. On the other hand, the alternative hypothesis would state that the consumption of dark chocolate would cause significant health changes in an individual.

As I read up on this question, I found a study that suggested that dark chocolate can improve blood pressure by improving blood flow throughout the body. The study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association studied for the effects that dark chocolate could have on blood pressure. The first study was conducted with 44 adults that all had higher blood pressure. The 44 were randomly given either dark chocolate or white chocolate in order to randomize and control for other confounding variables, such as health history and gender. The results of the study showed that over the 18 weeks over the trial, the people that were given dark chocolate had lowered blood pressures.

In relation to the File Drawer problem, which Andrew discussed in class, there is a possibility that the study may have suffered from it. The File Drawer problem is when a scientist puts all of the studies that show no positive results into a “file drawer” and do not publish them. Whenever a positively concluded study is published, there is always the possibility that there are other trials of this study with negative results sitting in a drawer within a scientists laboratory.

The idea of whether the previous study may have suffered from the File Drawer problem is further pressed when another study, published by Hypertension, a medical journal based around blood pressure and the such, tested for cocoa-enriched drinks having an effect on blood pressure. The study concluded that blood pressure actually rose when people consumed cocoa-enriched drinks over a period of time, causing the exact opposite effect on the blood pressure as compared to the first study I mentioned.

The bottom line is that if eaten in moderation, dark chocolate delivers many health benefits, such as large amounts of vitamins and minerals. In a  question if dark chocolate can have a significant impact on health/bodily changes, it is possible pure dark chocolate can aid in lowering blood pressure, but drinks and other dark chocolate additives may not have the same effect. Many more studies must be done, and compared through a meta-analysis, in order to come to a more definitive conclusion to whether dark chocolate can cause significant changes of a person’s blood pressure.



6 thoughts on “Is dark chocolate actually good for you?

  1. Luyi Yao

    This is a great post. Although personally I don’t like dark chocolate due to bitter taste, many people love it. This post shows both benefits and disadvantages of dark chocolate, such as enough vitamins and nutrients, and high level of sugar and calories. It is surprising for me that pure dark chocolate can aid in lowering blood pressure. I’d like to start to try some dark chocolate now.

  2. Mairead Donnard

    Such an interesting blog! I, for one, love dark chocolate so it was nice to see the positive benefits of consuming this treat in terms of blood pressure. It was concerning to see how many calories were in the 100 gram bar of dark chocolate though. With this being said, I guess that the saying ‘all things are good in moderation’ can be made applicable here. Given that your post was about the positives of a food that one would not typically associate with health, i wondered what are foods that we typically associate as being healthy but in actuality or not. Here is an article that you might find interesting:
    The article discusses some foods that are not as healthy as one might think. The food that surprised me the most was trail mix. Which food surprised you?

  3. lkv5058

    Great post! I’m happy to hear my guilty pleasure is actually not so bad. I wonder how much of a difference the amend of cocoa makes. I’ve noticed some dark chocolate is under 50% while other bars are up in the 90’s! I went ahead and did some more research and found even more benefits including the release of serotonin from the pure joy of consuming the treat. This post has made my day. If you’d like to read more, check out the information provided on the subject by The University of Texas.

  4. Olivia Anne Browne

    Great post. I used to be a vegan and there were only very specific kinds of chocolate I could eat. Most times, they were very very very dark chocolate. I think your findings were spot on. I agree that there are more health benefits in dark chocolate than in milk chocolate for obvious reasons. I think its crazy that dark chocolate can lower blood pressure! We should all be eating some dark chocolate. Overall, I think anything in moderation is OK.
    Check out this article on chocolate, and its effects on your brain.

    1. ljj126

      Interesting! I always love hearing my friends and family talk about chocolate and how darker is the best for you. However, that seemed to justify their reasoning to eat the entire bar which was loaded with sugar and calories. Just as you mentioned in the studies. I have spent the last 1 0 years of my life really focusing on healthy and staying active, and there isn’t one trainer that I know that will say moderation isn’t key to being healthy.. in this link, you fond some sound evidence about why moderation is key to a healthy diet.
      I think that your blog will help show some people its okay to snack on dark chocolate, just don’t eat 10 bars of it!
      Great read!

  5. Derek William Drotman

    I wrote about this topic in an earlier blog period and found similar results! At first I was surprised how healthy dark chocolate actually is and how beneficial it is to your body. I did learn that it really depends on the percentage of cocoa the chocolate has, because the higher the percent the healthier it is. Milk chocolate really doesn’t have that much cocoa which is why it is so unhealthy. The origins of chocolate are brought way back into the ancient aztecs and it was one of their most important foods. Here is an article discussing how important chocolate actually was for the aztecs.

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