Certainly, it can be pleasant to eat carefully for a week and then indulge in chocolate as a reward. Maybe I chose a topic that would make my readers happy? Too much chocolate is not good for us, but isn’t that true of just about anything?

The truth is that chocolate has health benefits for our mind and our body. Some of these benefits are not well known. Making these known will be the purpose of today’s post, along with sources for finding the best chocolates.

Johns Hopkins Medicine tells us that our relationships with chocolate may be “complicated”. Roughly 45% of women in the United States report that they have chocolate cravings. 91% of female college students admit to regular cravings for it. Unlike men, many women have feelings of guilt when they eat chocolate, as if it is a “forbidden” food.

But there are compelling reasons why chocolate should not be our “guilty pleasure”. Studies show that women who associated eating chocolate cake with celebration did better with weight management than those who associated it with guilt.

Problems from the guilt feelings included:

  • Feelings of unhappiness and loss of control
  • Unhealthy eating behaviors
  • Greater body image dissatisfaction
  • Reduced quality of life

It has been my experience that making any food taboo is to increase cravings for that food, along with the guilt when I actually get around to eating it.

Here are the recommendations that make sense to me:

  • Set terms for relationships with chocolate. Enjoy it with intention and no guilt
  • Don’t sit in front of a TV with a huge bowl of chocolate candy
  • Be mindful of when and why you are eating chocolates
  • Plan carefully for this. If we eat one chocolate bar daily, we shouldn’t also go out for a rich chocolate dessert on that same day. Do one or the other.


First of all, we should choose dark chocolate over milk chocolate, at least most of the time. Dark chocolate has powerful antioxidants. Dark chocolate generally has a cacao content of at least 70%. The cacao content is generally listed on chocolate packages at grocery stores. My last purchase was of 85% cacao. For what it’s worth, the 70% chocolate was tastier.

One of the best antioxidants is a flavonol called epicatechin. Flavonols fight inflammation and protect our cells from damage by free radicals.

Health benefits include:

  • Increased heart health. Antioxidants in dark chocolate are known to lower blood pressure, reduce clotting and increase blood circulation to the heart. This reduces the risk of stroke, coronary heart disease and death from heart disease.
  • Balance of the immune system. Flavonols reduce oxidative stress, which is an immune system imbalance and cause of many diseases.
  • Fighting diabetes. Epicatechin protects cells and makes them stronger. We are able to use insulin more efficiently.
  • Improvement of brain function. Dark chocolate flavonols positively impact our brains by improving our reaction time, our visual-spatial awareness and our memory.

  • Boost of athletic performance. Epicatechin in dark chocolate increases the production of nitric oxide in our blood, which reduces the amount of oxygen an athlete uses in moderate intensity exercise. We can maintain intensity for longer periods of time.
  • Reduction of stress. Research has confirmed that eating dark chocolate reduces our levels of the stress hormone cortisol. This is related to the effect that dark chocolate has on heart health.

The difference in cocoa and cacao, if any, can be confusing. Chocolate is made from cacao beans (or seeds) from the cacao tree. The content of the beans provides the basis for chocolate products. Some experts use “cacao” for the pods, beans and ground-up content of the beans and “cocoa” only for the powder that is the result. The bottom line is that there is no real difference in the final chocolate products and the words are used inconsistently.


I like to use Amazon links for sources for just about anything. Amazon is trustworthy and noted for excellent service. As an Amazon associate, I may earn from activity on the links I use within my posts. This is affiliate marketing. For more information on this, see my upper menu – BECOME AN AFFILIATE MARKETER.

Each link will provide pictures, details, prices and suggestions for other similar items.

Lindt Excellence 70% cocoa dark chocolate bars- 12 pack

Bouchard Premium Belgian dark chocolate bars – 72% cacao, available in 1 pack or 4 pack

Trader Joe’s Belgian dark chocolate bars – 9 bars in 3 varieties

Godiva Sea Salt dark chocolate bars – minis, 8 count

Ghiardelli Intense dark chocolate squares – 3 packs, 72% cacao

Ghiardelli Premium assorted chocolate squares – gift box (I well remember visiting the Ghiardelli store in San Francisco – the ultimate classy candy store)

Chocolove Organic dark chocolate bars – 73% cocoa

Jacler 120 pieces, smooth meting center – 70% extra dark chocolate truffles


Ethel M. chocolates


Russell Stover

Chocolate of the Month Club


John Hopkins Medicine has come up with a recommendation for how much chocolate we might consume for best health benefits – an occasional treat of minimally processed dark chocolate with at least 70% cacao content. About an ounce or two per day.

We should always check the label for calorie, fat and sugar content. We should be aware that dark chocolate has caffeine, which causes sensitivity to some of us.

To summarize, dark chocolate has definite health benefits, with its antioxidants. This does not suggest that we immediately go on a “chocolate diet” . It also doesn’t suggest that we beat ourselves up if we occasionally indulge in more than an ounce or two.

All relationships need care and understanding. Our relationship with chocolate is no different.

Please leave me any comments or questions in the “Comments” section below.



  1. Hi Richard,

    Thanks for the fantastic article. It wonderfully highlights the health benefits of dark chocolate, making it a delight to read for chocolate lovers like me. I particularly appreciate the emphasis on mindful consumption and choosing high-cacao content chocolate for maximum health benefits. 

    It would be interesting to discuss further how different types of chocolate, such as those with added nuts or fruits, compare in terms of health benefits. What are your thoughts?

    Thanks again

    • Hi Alice! Thanks for your participation. Your comments add to my article in a positive way. Everything I have read about combining nuts or fruits with dark chocolate tells me that this enhances the health benefits of the product. And why not? Two healthy foods are better than one. We must be sure that DARK chocolate is used, whatever the final product. Nuts and fruits are important parts of my daily diet, though the salt in nuts can make them addictive. Please keep in touch!

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