Skip to Main Content

Sweeter Than You Think: The Health Benefits of Chocolate

Posted in: Blogs , English

Chocolate, one of the most widely loved sweets, has a reputation of being an indulgence that has no nutritional value. However, cocoa, derived from the cacao tree, has many nutritional benefits. Pick up some dark chocolate to munch on while you learn what makes this snack so healthy!

The Heart

While dark chocolate is often a romantic gift to give your loved one, it has a more significant effect on the heart than you might imagine. Cocoa contains antioxidants that prevent free radicals in your body from oxidizing LDL cholesterol (the bad stuff). If oxidized, the cholesterol stores up in your arteries, which can cause high blood pressure and other health issues. But that’s not all these antioxidants can do for you! They also cause the internal lining of your arteries, the endothelium, to produce nitric oxide (NO). When NO is present, the arteries become less stiff, which improves blood flow and lowers blood pressure.

The Brain

Next time you need a little extra brain power, reach for the dark chocolate. Blood flow improves after the consumption of cocoa, meaning your brain receives more oxygen and can function better. Additionally, chocolate contains caffeine, a stimulant that increases the speed at which we process information, which you can also find in coffee.

The Catch

While chocolate has some great health benefits, it’s not perfect. The production methods used to make many of the chocolates sold in stores remove a large amount of the antioxidants. Chocolate also tends to contain a lot of sugar and calories, so you should eat it in moderation. To get the most benefits out of your chocolate indulgence, opt for dark chocolate with 70 percent or more cocoa. When baking with cocoa powder, use natural cocoa powder instead of Dutch-processed, as the production of Dutch-processed cocoa powder removes a significant amount of the antioxidants. We recommend getting your chocolate fix with this delicious black bean budino recipe!

Satisfy your cravings and improve your health with some chocolate every now and then. To check your heart health or find a nutrition plan that’s right for you, schedule an appointment with your Baylor St. Luke’s Medical Group primary care physician. They can refer you to a Baylor St. Luke’s Medical Group cardiologist for specialized cardiovascular care. Our multidisciplinary team can help you make the necessary changes in your life to achieve better health.


Healthline | 7 Proven Health Benefits of Dark Chocolate
Harvard SPH | Dark Chocolate
Medical News Today | Health benefits and risks of chocolate
Harvard Health Publishing | Cocoa: a sweet treat for the brain?
PMC | Cocoa and Dark Chocolate Polyphenols: From Biology to Clinical Applications
Forbes | Three Things Caffeine Does In Your Brain


Recent Updates

Easy and healthy instant meals our physicians love

JAN 17, 2023

A Baylor St. Luke’s Medical Group physician provides tips and recipes to help you create simple meals with items you have in your pantry. Get cooking!

Read More Additional information about Easy and healthy instant meals our physicians love

Bundle up and head out: 6 tips for an injury-free workout

JAN 06, 2023

Exercising outside can be soothing. The fresh air and scenic routes make exercising more enjoyable than working out at home or in your local gym. But what do experts say about taking a nature walk or running in the cold, snow, or rain?

Read More Additional information about 6 tips for an injury-free workout | St. Luke's Health

Factors that can increase your risk of liver cancer

DEC 08, 2022

The liver is the second largest and hardest working organ. The liver is relentless. It works nonstop behind the scenes to keep us healthy. It removes waste and produces bile, which helps turn fat into energy.

Read More Additional information about Factors that can increase your risk of liver cancer | St. Luke's Health

Find a Doctor

Looking for a doctor? Perform a quick search by name or browse by specialty.