Is dark chocolate healthy?
Yes, dark chocolate has compounds that offer health benefits and can be enjoyed without guilt, even on a daily basis. But the portion size matters, since too many bites can contribute extra fat, sugar and calories and negate its health benefits.
Dark chocolate is rich in cocoa solids, which contain compounds known as flavanols. At high levels, cocoa flavanols have been shown to help lower blood pressure and cholesterol,improve cognition and possibly lower the risk of diabetes. Dark chocolate has the highest amount of cocoa flavanols; milk chocolate has less, and white chocolate has none.
But while cocoa flavanols in dark chocolate make it a healthful treat, they give it a bitter flavor. Manufacturers may process chocolate to make it more palatable, but doing so can remove some of these beneficial compounds.
Factors in processing, including fermentation and roasting, which deepen the flavor and give chocolate its distinct aroma, can affect flavanol content, explained Matt Hartings, assistant professor of chemistry at American University.