19

votes

Chocolate - is it healthy?

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created February 28, 2010 at 7:50 PM

I avoid processed chocolate and make my own from cacao nibs and cacao butter. This removes some potential concerns about quality, rancidity, and additives. Cacao is mostly half fat and half carbohydrate (by gram, not calorie), with some protein. The fat is half saturated.

Cacao has large amounts of some minerals like Mg, but a large amount of phytic acid that will inhibit mineral absorption. It also contains other phytochemicals that many people claim is good (anti-oxidant, etc), but I think most of those claims are on shaky ground. It also contains substantial amounts of theobromine (very similar to caffeine). There is a history of large amounts of cacao consumption in healthy cultures in Peru, which have lead to claims of health benefits of chocolate based on epidemiological evidence. Chocolate doesn't seem to be a paleo food- it requires fermentation.

Is chocolate a food of healthy cultures? Is it an optimal source of minerals, a compromise dessert, or bad for you?

Af49bced416926d9f88e47a7e705d99d

(20)

on June 29, 2012
at 05:51 AM

copper and heavy metals in chocolate? huh?

Af49bced416926d9f88e47a7e705d99d

(20)

on June 29, 2012
at 05:46 AM

i don't like cacao nibs alone but i got some powder from ELF and it tastes amazing all alone.

B0454de6d4f4cdd9ca2e59021dc105bf

(606)

on July 30, 2011
at 02:53 PM

Hear, hear! I've learned a huge amount from this site in the short time I've been here.

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on July 30, 2011
at 10:04 AM

ill try it, cause there is some coconut oil left and also some rawchoclate and vanile powder

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on July 30, 2011
at 10:02 AM

hi love*i like your profile picture. its very green and like photographs of monkeys in the rainforest. and blury in his sharpness.

Bf417f0ad3560adb1a5d1c155246831a

(193)

on June 18, 2011
at 09:44 PM

I completely agree with you and would also like to know what the verdict is.

B4e1fa6a8cf43d2b69d97a99dfca262c

(10255)

on May 03, 2011
at 11:05 PM

do i really want to know the bad news about Lindt 99% :(

Bf72f771a19f3a3789f7fdf24c86daef

on April 20, 2011
at 05:37 AM

cacao nibs and cacao beans taste magnificent without anything added. so i respectfully disagree :)

36ba71ea8bc4f736f4113433fde572bd

(347)

on February 26, 2011
at 10:51 PM

Sugar is a "new" addition to cacao consumption. The Olmecs who invented chocolate consumption and the Mayans who developed it did so happily and extensively, and never with sugar. Sugar was only added after Cortez brought cacao back to Europe. It's certainly not "paleo" in the sense that it's only been consumed by humans for < 4,000 years, but, whatever. I don't think it's nearly the gut bomb of grains, and it's not an industrial ersatz food like margarine.

101b3a5c96d313d22262f65bdff20acf

(539)

on February 26, 2011
at 04:34 PM

I'm with Anna - my 100% Ghirardelli's does it for me, now. Under 90% is revoltingly sweet to me.

4c65d35d658921a3821ced115391ba1d

(70)

on February 12, 2011
at 03:38 AM

"is chocolate healthy?" with all due respect - i don't give a damn! ;-)

75fc0701861b06be925ad42a6f9843ce

(10)

on December 15, 2010
at 03:30 AM

thanks for the idea! i can get cocoa bars, for making hot cocoa.. but, ill use, mixed with some milk (im lacto paleo) and maybe some honey (my blood sugar levels are ok, i workout a lot), and i can add that to my daily carbo need.

A968087cc1dd66d480749c02e4619ef4

(20436)

on December 03, 2010
at 05:52 PM

I don't think chocolate's possible healthy parts outweigh the negatives. I think of it as a treat - only to be indulged in rarely. However, if it makes you feel good, via taste, texture, or the feeling of indulgence - then you could make the case that it is healthy, in a mental/hormonal way. Lowering stress and cortisol can't be bad - but I'm really just speculating here.

Fe783e04644862c30823614f31b9a996

(499)

on March 11, 2010
at 09:28 PM

Oxygen radical absorbance capacity ≈ a method of measuring antioxidant levels.

A1ae6a36ca0f4210882603e1255ea42d

(298)

on March 11, 2010
at 08:48 PM

whats an ORAC value?

Be4b60059db3511771303de1613ecb67

(1137)

on March 11, 2010
at 08:14 PM

And I like it a lot (in very small quantities!)

9722850c9a1c47b79edf7c4233040248

(1276)

on March 04, 2010
at 04:35 PM

I actually hate the taste of chocolate with sugar. I have my dad's anti-sweet tooth. 100% or cacao nibs for me :) 85% is sickly sweet to me, yet most people consider it "dark." Please!

5ebeec76e20738d0a17cd724d64b1e0f

(1922)

on March 02, 2010
at 09:58 AM

85% chocolate may not be "medicine," but it's certainly not an unhealthy food: it's low carb and high in magnesium, among other things. Also, see my post below with the link to Nephropal.

5ebeec76e20738d0a17cd724d64b1e0f

(1922)

on March 02, 2010
at 09:56 AM

Have you tried unsweetened baking chocolate powder in cream? It dissolves more easily in cream than in milk, though after mixing you can add a little milk if you want.

Eae21abfabb19c4617b2630386994fd9

on March 02, 2010
at 06:56 AM

All cacao is fermented. There is still significant quantities of phytic acid after fermentation. It would be interesting to see if there are any other means for reducing the phytic acid.

9d43f6873107e17ca4d1a5055aa7a2ad

on March 01, 2010
at 02:32 PM

I really like raw dark chocolate http://www.fineandraw.com/

9d43f6873107e17ca4d1a5055aa7a2ad

on March 01, 2010
at 02:30 PM

Well you people who enjoy it unsweetened are lucky :) To me cacao nibs taste like sawdust.

A89f9751a97c3082802dc0bcbe4e9208

(13978)

on March 01, 2010
at 09:15 AM

I too make my own chocolate (from cacao beans that I roast). I hadn't considered the conundrum of cacao bean containing phytic acid until a few weeks ago. I wonder how the fermentation affects the phytic acid content...?

Eae21abfabb19c4617b2630386994fd9

on March 01, 2010
at 06:54 AM

I don't add any sweetner to my chocolate and I think it tastes great (I do add other things). I used to eat just raw cacao nibs but didn't enjoy that all that much. I doubt the Inca had sweetner for theirs. I do agree that it is unlikely to be paleo. But could be considered traditional.

5cd18bfcafadc56292971e59f2f1faf6

(2475)

on March 01, 2010
at 05:33 AM

I agree with this. To me, chocolate usually needs to be combined with sugar and possibly milk to be worth eating. That said, you'll have to pry the chocolate mousse (in the form of a rare but appreciated dessert) out of my cold dead hands!

93f44e8673d3ea2294cce085ebc96e13

(10502)

on March 01, 2010
at 04:19 AM

I take unsweetened cocoa and whip it with heavy cream to make a cocoa-whipped cream for dessert. No added sugar whatsoever, plenty of "sweetness" from milk sugars.

9e2180e7bfd688eb52d4f0c536172024

(2004)

on February 28, 2010
at 10:05 PM

I may experiment with that sometime (adding a little coffee bean to the mix would be good, too), but for now I'm happy to let someone else do my conching for me. ;-)

93f44e8673d3ea2294cce085ebc96e13

(10502)

on February 28, 2010
at 09:40 PM

I love the insight in this question. Fantastic.

Eae21abfabb19c4617b2630386994fd9

on February 28, 2010
at 09:04 PM

you can avoid the solid chocolate. Just grind the nibs (in a coffee grinder) and mix in with your fat.

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18 Answers

9
9e2180e7bfd688eb52d4f0c536172024

(2004)

on February 28, 2010
at 08:45 PM

I eat very dark chocolate (usually around 85% cacao). I don't care whether it is paleo, and I don't pretend that it is medicine. I eat it because it is an indulgence that has relatively little sugar while retaining the mouthfeel and intense flavor that make it sooo worth it. It's satifying but doesn't set me up for sugar cravings later. I'm using less and less artificial sweetener these days (used to love it in my tea) but allowing myself a few squares of chocolate several times a week. I figure I'm better off on balance.

I recently bought some nibs on a lark -- great flavor on their own (no sweetness of course). I'm thinking of making some dark chocolate truffles (solid chocolate + butter + cream) and rolling them in the nibs.

5ebeec76e20738d0a17cd724d64b1e0f

(1922)

on March 02, 2010
at 09:58 AM

85% chocolate may not be "medicine," but it's certainly not an unhealthy food: it's low carb and high in magnesium, among other things. Also, see my post below with the link to Nephropal.

Be4b60059db3511771303de1613ecb67

(1137)

on March 11, 2010
at 08:14 PM

And I like it a lot (in very small quantities!)

Eae21abfabb19c4617b2630386994fd9

on February 28, 2010
at 09:04 PM

you can avoid the solid chocolate. Just grind the nibs (in a coffee grinder) and mix in with your fat.

9d43f6873107e17ca4d1a5055aa7a2ad

on March 01, 2010
at 02:32 PM

I really like raw dark chocolate http://www.fineandraw.com/

9e2180e7bfd688eb52d4f0c536172024

(2004)

on February 28, 2010
at 10:05 PM

I may experiment with that sometime (adding a little coffee bean to the mix would be good, too), but for now I'm happy to let someone else do my conching for me. ;-)

75fc0701861b06be925ad42a6f9843ce

(10)

on December 15, 2010
at 03:30 AM

thanks for the idea! i can get cocoa bars, for making hot cocoa.. but, ill use, mixed with some milk (im lacto paleo) and maybe some honey (my blood sugar levels are ok, i workout a lot), and i can add that to my daily carbo need.

4
5ebeec76e20738d0a17cd724d64b1e0f

on March 01, 2010
at 11:35 PM

There's a good post about cacao over at Nephropal:

http://nephropal.blogspot.com/2009/10/beans-coffe-and-cacao.html

The evidence I've seen doesn't seem to indicate any adverse health effects. I consume a few teaspoons of unsweetened baking chocolate daily, mixed with homemade half-anf-half and sometimes a few chunks of 85% Lindt.

2
016d898536232b3f4afeec4ad8e05115

on March 04, 2010
at 12:01 AM

I like to make hot chocolate with baking chocolate unsweetened, almond milk and tablespoon of coconut milk. Liquid almond joy heaven.

2
9d43f6873107e17ca4d1a5055aa7a2ad

on March 01, 2010
at 03:46 AM

Since it unfortunately tastes like crap unless accompanied by sugar, it's probably not paleo. Anything that needs something else to be edible probably isn't. That doesn't mean it's BAD though, it just means maybe we shouldn't have so much.

9d43f6873107e17ca4d1a5055aa7a2ad

on March 01, 2010
at 02:30 PM

Well you people who enjoy it unsweetened are lucky :) To me cacao nibs taste like sawdust.

Eae21abfabb19c4617b2630386994fd9

on March 01, 2010
at 06:54 AM

I don't add any sweetner to my chocolate and I think it tastes great (I do add other things). I used to eat just raw cacao nibs but didn't enjoy that all that much. I doubt the Inca had sweetner for theirs. I do agree that it is unlikely to be paleo. But could be considered traditional.

93f44e8673d3ea2294cce085ebc96e13

(10502)

on March 01, 2010
at 04:19 AM

I take unsweetened cocoa and whip it with heavy cream to make a cocoa-whipped cream for dessert. No added sugar whatsoever, plenty of "sweetness" from milk sugars.

9722850c9a1c47b79edf7c4233040248

(1276)

on March 04, 2010
at 04:35 PM

I actually hate the taste of chocolate with sugar. I have my dad's anti-sweet tooth. 100% or cacao nibs for me :) 85% is sickly sweet to me, yet most people consider it "dark." Please!

5ebeec76e20738d0a17cd724d64b1e0f

(1922)

on March 02, 2010
at 09:56 AM

Have you tried unsweetened baking chocolate powder in cream? It dissolves more easily in cream than in milk, though after mixing you can add a little milk if you want.

5cd18bfcafadc56292971e59f2f1faf6

(2475)

on March 01, 2010
at 05:33 AM

I agree with this. To me, chocolate usually needs to be combined with sugar and possibly milk to be worth eating. That said, you'll have to pry the chocolate mousse (in the form of a rare but appreciated dessert) out of my cold dead hands!

101b3a5c96d313d22262f65bdff20acf

(539)

on February 26, 2011
at 04:34 PM

I'm with Anna - my 100% Ghirardelli's does it for me, now. Under 90% is revoltingly sweet to me.

36ba71ea8bc4f736f4113433fde572bd

(347)

on February 26, 2011
at 10:51 PM

Sugar is a "new" addition to cacao consumption. The Olmecs who invented chocolate consumption and the Mayans who developed it did so happily and extensively, and never with sugar. Sugar was only added after Cortez brought cacao back to Europe. It's certainly not "paleo" in the sense that it's only been consumed by humans for < 4,000 years, but, whatever. I don't think it's nearly the gut bomb of grains, and it's not an industrial ersatz food like margarine.

Bf72f771a19f3a3789f7fdf24c86daef

on April 20, 2011
at 05:37 AM

cacao nibs and cacao beans taste magnificent without anything added. so i respectfully disagree :)

Af49bced416926d9f88e47a7e705d99d

(20)

on June 29, 2012
at 05:46 AM

i don't like cacao nibs alone but i got some powder from ELF and it tastes amazing all alone.

2
0637289bb4a0ab314d80fa4de627d395

(1015)

on February 28, 2010
at 08:48 PM

As with all things paleo, there is a dose response curve. There is an optimal amount of how much of anything you should take and how frequently you should take it. This will ultimately be a very individualistic thing, but you can apply some intuition. (BTW, paraphrasing McGuff). DeVany suggest a small amount of dark chocolate to address a sweet tooth. Obviously if you have a sweet tooth every day, then you should probably go back to the drawing board. In summary, chocolate can play a role in an otherwise healthy diet and active lifestyle.

1
2870a69b9c0c0a19a919e54cb3a62137

(1520)

on June 18, 2011
at 10:24 PM

I'd consider cocoa more drug than food. It probably gets unhealthy at an amount that varies from person to person. On average, the recommendation of 10-15g per day may be low enough to have more benefits than drawbacks in the short term.

It's not a food to be considered as a source of magnesium, you have to take into account that you'll also consume large doses of copper and heavy metals. Long term, their accumulation may prove detrimental.

Then there's that whole host of other substances in chocolate, some of them allergenic, some psychoactive. Histamine also comes to mind.

As long as you aren't talking about 99% chocolate, I'd say yes it's somewhat unhealthy simply because it contains added sugar. Sensitive people may need to remember also that cocoa contains natural sugars, starch and mostly insoluble fiber.

Chocolate will usually have less flavonoids than less processed cocoa, another reason chocolate isn't optimal.

Af49bced416926d9f88e47a7e705d99d

(20)

on June 29, 2012
at 05:51 AM

copper and heavy metals in chocolate? huh?

1
748232ad4ffa864fd2c592a1d5e62875

on February 26, 2011
at 02:46 AM

Hey everyone, new this board and just started doing Paleo a few months ago. Anyway I took some coconut butter and one piece of 90% dark chocolate and melted in microwave for 30 seconds. Then I put almonds, walnuts and blueberries in the bowl and it was a nice snack (could be breakfast too) I guess the chocolate isnt very paleo but its a small amout. Anyone got any subs I can use for it in a similar dish?

1
Ac9425a387b78cb37a01972fe848bddb

(655)

on November 27, 2010
at 11:52 PM

So what's the verdict? Eat raw cacao nibs, grinding the nibs up, or just buy 90% chocolate bars? I can get either or relatively cheap. Which way is it best to consume to get full benefits of antioxidants and magnesium?

Bf417f0ad3560adb1a5d1c155246831a

(193)

on June 18, 2011
at 09:44 PM

I completely agree with you and would also like to know what the verdict is.

1
Fe783e04644862c30823614f31b9a996

on March 11, 2010
at 08:44 PM

Regarding cacao nibs, you might be surprised by how much variation there is in the flavor between brands. The tastiest nibs I've had were Scharffen Berger roasted nibs--Unfortunately, roasting deletes a lot of the antioxidants.

Among raw nibs I've noticed a big difference in taste between the pricey Navitas brand and the generic 10-pound bag of eBay nibs I bought (yes, I bought food on eBay). Eating the eBay nibs feels like taking medicine; Navitas are nearly a treat.

Mark Sisson got me focused on/obsessed with ORAC values, so it's hard for me to resist the huge ORAC "dose" offered by a dozen daily grams of raw nibs. But I miss my Lindt 99%!

Fe783e04644862c30823614f31b9a996

(499)

on March 11, 2010
at 09:28 PM

Oxygen radical absorbance capacity ≈ a method of measuring antioxidant levels.

A1ae6a36ca0f4210882603e1255ea42d

(298)

on March 11, 2010
at 08:48 PM

whats an ORAC value?

B4e1fa6a8cf43d2b69d97a99dfca262c

(10255)

on May 03, 2011
at 11:05 PM

do i really want to know the bad news about Lindt 99% :(

1
A1ae6a36ca0f4210882603e1255ea42d

on March 11, 2010
at 07:34 PM

I like raw cacao nibs in my (un-paleo) greek yogurt, perhaps it's my peruvian heritage

I think it has a fine nutritional profile, bit high on carbs, certainly not un-paleo if you eat it raw (I also enjoy unsweetened organic chocolate)

I agree that cacao powder has got lots of uses as well

1
03aeff8d87a3b53a449b5b8e9158da98

(3268)

on March 08, 2010
at 07:55 PM

Well, this site is really turning into something great. I was looking for cacao recipes, not expecting to find too much with the search function, but there are several great suggestions here.

Let's congratulate Patrik, and ourselves, for really building this up!

B0454de6d4f4cdd9ca2e59021dc105bf

(606)

on July 30, 2011
at 02:53 PM

Hear, hear! I've learned a huge amount from this site in the short time I've been here.

0
46cca8ea7b1325c286c470182aef053b

(111)

on July 06, 2013
at 09:35 AM

Anyone had any bad effects from the caffeine in cocoa powder? I just read a post on how someone knocked their adrenals out on it, and I was wondering if anyone else has a similar experience.

0
600c123bacc43bf566c17b19253f5779

(170)

on July 30, 2011
at 04:33 AM

I mix raw cacao powder with equal parts coconut oil. It doesn't need sugar or stevia, although sometimes a little vanilla bean is nice...yum.

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on July 30, 2011
at 10:02 AM

hi love*i like your profile picture. its very green and like photographs of monkeys in the rainforest. and blury in his sharpness.

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on July 30, 2011
at 10:04 AM

ill try it, cause there is some coconut oil left and also some rawchoclate and vanile powder

0
77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on June 18, 2011
at 10:22 PM

An excellent PWO treat.

0
Bf417f0ad3560adb1a5d1c155246831a

on June 18, 2011
at 09:47 PM

how detrimental is the little bit of sugar (3 grams) in a 90% cacao bar to the body? Can sugar make a person feel bloated, drowsy or gain weight?

0
77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on April 20, 2011
at 07:00 AM

there is raw choclate. i have some here. it nice to mix the powder with something. occasionally its very good. to often its sad about the choclate. i dont like sugar in choclate. maybe xylitol. only a little

0
3f3dec8a134f8a8855b70970f7d62034

on April 20, 2011
at 02:29 AM

I eat paleo almost 100% but still have my chocolate. I like to make a chocolate mousse with raw cacao powder. I use dates to sweeten it by blending them with a bit of water in the Vitamix. I use 1 or 2 avocados depending on how much I want to make and a tablespoon of coconut oil, then mix it all together with a mixer. Then serve with some fruit on top. Very delicious and I believe very healthy as well as being quite compatible with eating paleo.

Does anyone have any comments about how compatible raw cacao powder or nibs are for the paleo diet?

Chocolate is the only food I will not give up for my paleo lifestyle......

-1
77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on December 03, 2010
at 05:37 PM

Yes, chocolate is healthy. Dark chocolate is good for your heart. Small bar of dark chocolate everyday can reduce blood pressure. Eating a delicious piece of chocolate could possibly reduce stress levels.

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