While chocolate is rarely considered a health food, it has a number of health benefits when eaten in moderation. Chocolate contains flavonoids, flavonols and antioxidants that can help the body repair damage, and studies have shown that chocolate can lower blood pressure, reducing risks of cardiovascular disease and stroke. While chocolate contains saturated fat, much of it is in the form of stearic acid, which is better for cholesterol levels.
The beneficial compounds in chocolate are generally found in the cocoa solids, so chocolate containing more cocoa solids is healthier than other forms of the food. This generally means that the higher the cocoa percentage, the healthier the chocolate. Milk chocolate offers fewer benefits than dark chocolate, and chocolate containing nuts, caramel or other high-calorie additions may be more of a health detriment than a benefit. Most chocolate also contains high amounts of sugar, which increases its calorie count and the detrimental effect it has on blood glucose levels.
While chocolate contains some healthy substances, the same compounds can be found in other foods and drinks, such as cranberries, onions, apples, peanuts, teas and red wines. In most cases, these foods offer more health benefits and fewer drawbacks than chocolate.