Scientifically checked

Dark Chocolate

By Alyssa Morlacci
Updated on 14. Sep. 2020

Good news: We won't tell you not to each chocolate. In fact, the delicious treat can even be good for your health!

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Dark chocolate...

  • ...has a relaxing effect. Chocolate can relax and soothe stress. This is shown by tests with participants in special stress situations such as exams.
  • ...strengthens the heart. Several studies show dark chocolate, with its many flavonoids, reduces the risk of harmful deposits in the blood vessels and can also lower cholesterol levels.
  • …stabilizes blood sugar. Certain plant dyes (catechins) from the high cocoa content ensure dark chocolate has a positive effect on blood sugar levels.
  • ...releaves stress. In stressful situations, a piece of chocolate, containing secondary plant substances from the high cocoa content as well as magnesium, can help you stay calm.
  • ...protects the cells. Chocolate is rich in antioxidants. These secondary plant substances protect cells from the harmful effects of free radicals, act as anti-aging agents and can even prevent cancer.
  • ...stimulates the brain. Chocolate can aid forgetfulness and lack of concentration. Researchers found after eating dark chocolate, the brain is better supplied with blood and thus becomes more efficient.
  • ...contains fat. Dark chocolate contains much less sugar than the milk version, but about as much fat. If you're looking after your figure, you should therefore only enjoy chocolate in moderation.

What You Should Know About Chocolate

True chocolate fans enjoy many varieties. With each type, there are significant differences in quality. For centuries, the basis of chocolate has consisted of two ingredients, namely ground cocoa beans and cocoa butter. But early on, chocolatiers also added ingredients, such as sugar, milk, cream or powdered cocoa beans, nuts and spices like vanilla or cinnamon, to the pot in which they stirred the black delicacy until it was creamy. Differences in quality depend on the artificial flavors added versus original spices. The quality of cocoa beans, as well as ingredients like almonds, raisins, cranberries and more, also plays a major role in the integrity of chocolate. Less high-quality chocolate can contain up to five percent fats from other plants instead of just cocoa butter; pure butterfat is also a common ingredient.

The production method is also of importance. High-quality chocolate, for example, is handmade. Chocolate with a high cocoa content of at least 60 percent is generally of higher quality than those in which cocoa is secondary.

Origin

Chocolate as we enjoy it today comes from the Aztecs, who brewed a potion called Xocolatl from cacao beans. It wasn't until the 16th century that the liquid mass was made solid with added sugar.

Season

There is no season for chocolate.

Taste

More or less sweet, depending on the variety.

Here you can find all chocolate recipes.

How Healthy Is Chocolate?

Scientific publications confirm the health-promoting effects of chocolate. The flavonoids of cocoa beans, i.e. bioactive plant compounds, are primarily responsible. According to experts, these substances lower blood pressure, reduce inflammation, keep the blood fluid and increase good cholesterol. Regular chocolate consumption can reduce heart attacks by up to 37 percent and strokes by 29 percent.

Further studies have shown that chocolate boosts brain performance, improves memory and increases the ability to concentrate. Chocolate also doesn't necessarily make you fat; in fact, it can make you slimmer. A research team found people who eat a lot of chocolate have an average BMI about 18 percent lower than those who don't.

You can even use chocolate to prevent against type 2 diabetes. A five-year study showed people who ate chocolate more than once a week had an almost 50-percent lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes compared to those who did not eat chocolate.

All of these important health benefits apply especially to chocolate with a high cocoa content (at least 70 percent) and little to no sugar. Chocolate with a high milk and cream content, as well as white chocolate, contains a lot of sugar and fat. If you want to benefit from the health-promoting properties of cocoa beans, choose dark chocolate with a high cocoa content.

Nutritional values of chocolate per 100 grams (on average)  
Calories 539
Protein 9.2 grams
Fat 31.5 grams
Carbohydrates 54.1 grams
Fiber 1.36 grams

Chocolate Shopping and Cooking Tips

Shopping

While you don't necessarily have to spend a fortune, you shouldn't be too frugal either: Good chocolate comes from good ingredients, and they're not cheap. When shopping, make sure the list of ingredients on the packaging is as clear as possible. The shorter it is, the better the quality of the chocolate!

Storage

Chocolate likes it cool and dry. 

Preparation

Anyone who wants to cook or bake with chocolate and possibly melt it must crush, chop or grate it, depending on the recipe. Chopping is easy: Break the chocolate into large pieces and then grind it finer.

What To Make With Chocolate

Chocolate can be used to make anything from drinks, creams and puddings to cakes, tarts and biscuits. Chocolate fondue is a great way to enjoy fresh fruit or biscuits dipped into hot liquid chocolate.

Knowledge To Go

Chocolate can be quite healthy if you enjoy it in moderation and choose the right variation. It shouldn't be too cheap if you value high-quality ingredients.

Scientifically checked by our EAT SMARTER experts
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