It’s very tempting to think that a treat like dark chocolate is more healthy than other kinds of candy.
You can probably find a few studies and news articles to support this idea. Some even suggest that dark chocolate is not unhealthy, and in fact, may even be health-promoting.
Research shows off all sorts of fantastic benefits, from improving heart health, helping you lose weight, even making you smarter and happier. But when you look closely at the author’s information and disclosures, you’ll often see those chocolate makers like Nestle and Hershey’s usually sponsored these studies.
Through its partnership with over 40 universities and institutes, Mars Edge has contributed to over 160 publications regarding the health benefits of cocoa. You may recognize Mars Inc. name as the manufacturer and seller of many of your favorite candy bars.
That doesn’t mean they are lying, but it does demonstrate how eager they are to convince hungry snackers their products are worth buying.
You may also notice these studies tend to focus on one particular compound that is found in cocoa rather than boasting about full candy bars.
Flavanols are phytochemicals (plant compounds) that can benefit our health. Nearly all plants have flavonoids of some variety, and these may be one of the reasons why fruits and vegetables are so healthy and effective. They can have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects, which may help prevent chronic and degenerative diseases.
Cocoa, because it comes from a plant, also has flavonols. Most studies on cocoa and dark chocolate isolate the cocoa flavanol compound and use those beneficial effects to “prove” that chocolate is good for you.
They don’t tend to mention that to get enough of these flavanols from chocolate bars to be helpful; you’d have to eat a substantial amount, which means you’ll also be overloading on fats, sugars, and calories.
Chocolate Is Not A Miracle Pill
Eating isn’t too bad, as long as you eat it in moderation. But it’s unlikely to be very helpful either.
It’s not going to heal your diseases or fix all your health problems.
Of course, our health is affected by how we eat, in good and bad ways depending on what we eat.
But healthful eating is not about getting that one particular food that makes you healthy. It’s about eating a wide variety of healthy food every day.
The benefits you might gain from chocolate are more readily available in other fruits, vegetables, beans, and other plant-based foods.
Suppose you want to treat yourself to a piece of chocolate occasionally. In that case, you’ll probably be fine, but don’t trick yourself into thinking chocolate is a healthy food just because one particular chemical in it is good for you.