Dark Chocolate Nutrition: 12 Good Health Benefits but Cause Acne?

When I first decided to commit to a ketogenic diet, I remember what worried me the most was all of the foods I was going to have to give up.

woman holding chocolate bar

I knew I wouldn’t be able to eat a lot of desserts, but what really bothered me was the thought of sacrificing chocolate.

Like many other people, I find that chocolate is a comfort food. It doesn’t just taste delicious; it actually seems to give my mood a boost when I need it the most.

Giving that up was something I was not looking forward to.

But then I found myself wondering if I really would have to stop eating chocolate.

After all, I’d heard time and again that dark chocolate was different from milk chocolate, and that it is actually good for you.

If that was really the case, I reasoned that maybe it had a place in a low carb diet.

I could have just used that a an excuse to keep eating chocolate. But I like to take a scientific approach to diet as much as possible.

Plus, I figured there are plenty of other health-conscious folks out there wondering the same thing I was.

So I decided to do some research and find out whether dark chocolate really is good for you or not, and whether it is a keto-friendly choice.

In this article, I will share all the chocolate health benefits I discovered.

I will also go over the drawbacks so that you can make your own informed choice as to whether to eat chocolate or not.

First of All, Not All Chocolates Are Equal

I don’t want to get too deep into a discussion of all the different types of chocolates you can buy.

I have reserved that for my article, Best Low Carb Keto Chocolates.

But I do want to explain briefly why I am focusing here on dark chocolates, and not other types of chocolates.

Let’s lay some groundwork with the basics.

Chocolate is made from cacao tree seeds, also called cocoa tree seeds.

cacao tree and fruit

The most “basic” type of chocolate is called “unsweetened baking chocolate.” It consists of a combination of cacao butter and cacao solids.

This type of chocolate is low carb, and can be used in your keto recipes.

If you are looking for chocolate to simply munch on however, it may not be the ideal choice since it is entirely unsweetened and retains its full bitterness.

You may be used to snacking on milk chocolate, which likewise contains cacao solids and cacao butter together with sweetening (usually sugar) and milk powder or condensed milk.

While tasty, milk chocolate is usually higher in carbs than dark chocolate​ - though there are exceptions.

Dark chocolate is the chocolate of choice for many keto dieters.

It is a sweetened chocolate similar to milk chocolate, but with a higher percentage comprised of cacao solids.

It is harder and more bitter, but still tastes delicious.

If you get the type which has the highest cacao solids percentage (i.e. 70% or above), you will keep carbohydrates to a minimum.

It also has quite a few studies backing up its benefits, as you will see momentarily.

For a more detailed breakdown of the different types of chocolate as well as information on some additional types not discussed here, please see my Best Low Carb Keto Chocolates buying guide.

KEY POINT:  While there are many types of chocolate you can buy, dark chocolate is the best option for a sweetened keto snack food.

For this reason, it will be my focus in this benefits article.

Dark Chocolate Nutrition Data

lindt 85% cacoa chocolate

Let’s check out the nutrition data for 100 grams of dark chocolate with 70-85% cacao solids (1):

  • Calories: 599
  • Carbs: 45.8 g
  • Sugars: 24 g
  • Total fat: 42.7 g
  • Saturated fat: 24.5 g
  • Polyunsaturated fat: 1.3 g
  • Monounsaturated fat: 12.8 g
  • Omega-3 fatty acids: 34 mg
  • Omega-6 fatty acids: 1218 mg
  • Protein: 7.8 g

This type of dark chocolate also contains:

  • Vitamin K: 7.3 mcg (9% DV)
  • Iron: 11.9 mg (66%)
  • Magnesium: 228 mg (57%)
  • Phosphorus: 308 mg (31% DV)
  • Potassium: 715 mg (20% DV)
  • Zinc: 3.3 mg (22% DV)
  • Copper: 1.8 mg (88%)
  • Manganese: 1.9 mg (97%)

You can see that dark chocolate is quite nutritious in terms of mineral content.

If you are curious how this data compares to the nutritional data for other types of chocolate, you can find out in Best Low Carb Keto Chocolates.

KEY POINT: Dark chocolate is an excellent source of a variety of nutrients, including phosphorous, iron, potassium, magnesium, and more.

Does Dark Chocolate Have Any Drawbacks?

While I am a huge chocolate fan, I believe in always presenting both sides of any matter with objectivity.

Aromatic cocoa, powder and food dessert background

So before I launch into dark chocolate’s health benefits, I want to mention the potential drawbacks.

Carbs

Dark chocolate does contain a significant amount of carbohydrates. That being said, the 45.8 g of carbs mentioned in the nutrition data above is for 100 g.

100 g of chocolate is probably more than you plan to eat on a regular basis.

People who “supplement” with chocolate will often eat just one square a day.

That would mean you would only be eating a fraction of those 45.8 g.

Plus, you can opt for a “darker” chocolate which contains an even higher percentage of cacao solids.

This will also bring the carbs down.

You can even find dark chocolates which are sweetened using stevia or another healthier natural alternative to sugar.

These too have lower carbohydrates.

If you are curious what I eat, I like to indulge in the Lindt Excellence Bar which contains 85% cacao solids.

This type of chocolate has 15 g of carbs in four squares. I usually just eat one square a day, so that is only 3.75 g of carbs.

Not bad, right? That barely eats into the carb allowance I give myself for each day.

When I bake chocolate into recipes, I also keep careful track of the carbs.

Being as I go with the unsweetened variety and typically use stevia or another natural sweetener in place of sugar, those recipes also do not add too many carbs.

Omega-6 Fatty Acids

Another issue with chocolate involves omega fatty acids.

chocolate and cacao powder on spoon

In the nutritional information I shared, you may have noticed that there are a lot more omega-6 fatty acids present in chocolate than omega-3 fatty acids.

Omega-3 fatty acids are good for reducing inflammation in the body.

Omega-6 fatty acids promote inflammation.

Naturally, you want to consume far more omega-3 fatty acids than omega-6 fatty acids in order to keep inflammation in your body as low as possible.

This is one reason not to be excessive in your chocolate consumption. That would result in a pro-inflammatory ratio. Just eat chocolate in small amounts.

What you can do is add more fatty fish and other foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids to your diet.

This will help to balance out your overall ratio of intake.

Heavy Metals

Before getting to the benefits of dark chocolate, one final concern worth raising involves heavy metals.

stack of dark chocolate bars on cacao powder

Heavy metal contamination in chocolate is an issue which was catapulted into the public eye in 2015, thanks to a study from consumer watchdog organization As You Sow.

After subjecting 120 chocolate products to rigorous testing, the group found out that an astounding 96 tested positive for lead and/or cadmium in excess of what Proposition 65 in California allows.

Take a look at the test results for yourself (2).

This is a very real health concern, so it is something you should keep in mind when you are shopping.

Nonetheless, years have passed since the study was conducted, and brands have had a chance to make changes.

Given the public outcry over the issue, it seems likely that a number of them have taken steps to remedy the problem and repair the damage to their reputations.

Before you purchase a chocolate product, look at the product page carefully to see if you can find out whether or not the item is contaminated.

If that doesn’t work, just call or write the company and ask if you are concerned.

Keep in mind that heavy metal contamination is not inherent to chocolate.

It is simply the result of poor quality control.

KEY POINT: While chocolate is largely healthy and beneficial, there are several concerns.

Omega-6 fatty acids outpace omega-3 fatty acids, making it pro-inflammatory.

Carbs are present, though they are pretty low if you buy the right products and keep your consumption moderated.

Finally, some chocolate products may be contaminated with lead and/or cadmium.

Research can help you to avoid these products and pick healthier alternatives.

One Thing You Don’t Need to Worry About: Acne

I can still vividly remember when I was a teenager, adults were constantly telling me that I would have less acne if I would just stop eating so much chocolate.

woman holding before photo of face with acne

These adults did have good intentions of course. They wanted me to stop binging on sugary snacks and desserts.

That being said, I believed them. They probably believed what they were saying too. A lot of people do.

While this didn’t actually stop me from eating chocolate, it did cause me to feel a pang of guilt whenever I would have some.

I would cringe at the thought of all those zits popping up as a direct result of my indulgence.

Thankfully, it turns out that the complexion-related dangers of chocolate may have been greatly exaggerated.

During this study (44) , researchers fed chocolate bars to 65 participants, all of whom suffered from acne.

Some of the participants received bars with a regular amount of chocolate, while others ate bars which contained ten times as much.

The participants were not told which bars they had received.

The researchers reported,

“Counting of all the lesions on one side of the face before and after each ingestion period indicated no difference between the bars. Five normal subjects ingested two enriched chocolate bars daily for one month; this represented a daily addition of the diet of 1,200 calories, of which about half was vegetable fat. This excessive intake of chocolate and fat did not alter the composition or output of sebum. A review of studies purporting to show that diets high in carbohydrate or fat stimulate sebaceous secretion and adversely affect acne vulgaris indicates that these claims are unproved."

So while this does not definitively overthrow the hypothesis that chocolate causes acne, it should drive in a substantial wedge of doubt.

Actually, a better theory for why chocolate might be associated with acne is that the presence of dairy is the culprit (45).

If this is indeed the case, it follows that dark chocolate would be superior to milk chocolate for those who are concerned with the appearance of their skin.

Furthermore, dark chocolate actually may have some benefits for skin health, which you can learn about in the section below.

KEY POINT: You may be under the impression that eating chocolate can cause acne, but research does not seem to provide support for that claim.

It is possible that dairy consumption can increase acne, which is a good reason to choose dark chocolate over milk chocolate.

12 ​Health Benefits of ​Dark Chocolate​

​Now you have a proper context through which to frame dark chocolate’s benefits.

So let’s take a look at what research says dark chocolate can do for your health.

1. Chocolate contains ample amounts of polyphenols.

You might not think of chocolate as a “super food,” but perhaps you should.

Woman deciding between an apple and a chocolate bar

Super foods are usually so-called because they contain healthy polyphenols.

Polyphenols may reduce the risk of cancer and cardiovascular disease while curbing inflammation throughout the body (6, 7​, ​8, 9, 10).

Researchers (5) who checked the polyphenol content of chocolate against that of assorted fruits which are considered to be “super foods” found that dark chocolate was “a significantly more concentrated source” of flavanols and antioxidants.

The scientists concluded,

'Cacao seeds thus provide nutritive value beyond that derived from their macronutrient composition and appear to meet the popular media's definition of a "Super Fruit.”'

KEY POINT: Cacao has been compared to super fruits, and has actually been found to be a superior source of key polyphenols.

​2. Ingredients in chocolate could fight obesity and diabetes.

The American Chemical Society (11) reports that cocoa contains an antioxidant which has managed to reduce blood sugar in overweight mice.

Furthermore, that same antioxidant helped those mice to lose weight (12).

So while it is critical for diabetics and pre-diabetics to avoid eating sugar, consuming unsweetened chocolate could feasibly have a protective effect.

Furthermore, eating dark chocolate can actually lead to improvements in insulin sensitivity (41).

KEY POINT: Chocolate contains an antioxidant which has been shown has been shown in animal studies to help reduce weight and improve blood sugar.

​3. Chocolate appears to be healthy for the cardiovascular system in multiple respects.

According to this meta-study (13),

“We found consistent acute and chronic benefits of chocolate or cocoa on FMD and previously unreported promising effects on insulin and HOMA-IR. Larger, longer-duration, and independently funded trials are required to confirm the potential cardiovascular benefits of cocoa flavan-3-ols.”

Chocolate also is good for keeping LDL cholesterol under control (see section #8 below).

Thanks to these excellent benefits, chocolate can reduce your chances of getting a heart attack.

hands holding chocolate heart

In one study (46), 470 elderly men were recruited and their blood pressure measured.

It was checked again after five years, and then they were followed up on over the next 15 years. Their cocoa intake was tracked throughout the study.

The findings were astonishing. The researchers report,

“Compared with the lowest tertile of cocoa intake, the adjusted relative risk for men in the highest tertile was 0.50 (95% CI, 0.32-0.78; P = .004 for trend) for cardiovascular mortality and 0.53 (95% CI, 0.39-0.72; P < .001) for all-cause mortality.”

In other words, the men with the highest intake of cocoa were 50% less likely to die form heart disease than those with the lowest cocoa consumption.

In more fascinating research (47), calcified atherosclerotic plaque in the coronary arteries was inversely associated with chocolate consumption.

Indeed, if you eat chocolate at least twice a week, this study indicates that you could be 32% less likely to have calcified plaque form in your arteries.

What if you eat chocolate even more often than that?

A third study (48) conducted by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute tracked chocolate consumption among 4,970 participants between the ages of 25 and 93.

Those who ate dark chocolate six times minimum weekly had a 57% reduced chance of developing coronary disease.

It should be noted that the above studies were observational in nature.

That means that we cannot provide causality, only correlation.

Still, they lend credence to the idea that chocolate can prevent cardiovascular disease.

As you will see based on the benefits for LDL and blood pressure, that makes a lot of sense.

KEY POINT: Meta-analysis reveals that chocolate may provide an array of cardiovascular health benefits, including improvements for insulin, blood pressure, LDL and more.

Observational research suggests this may reduce the chances of heart or arterial disease.

4. Eating chocolate may be good for your brain.

This research (14) mentions that there are animal studies which demonstrate that the flavanols contained in chocolate may have neuroprotective and neuromodulatory effects.

chocolate brain

In particular, take a look at this fascinating study (15) which is conducted on snails.

It was found that snails which were exposed to Epicatechin, one of the flavanols present in dark chocolate, had improvements to their memory over those which were not.

Human research (49) also indicates that chocolate may boost cognitive function.

In the linked study above, the consumption of flavonoid-rich foods and beverages (namely chocolate, tea and wine) and their possible effects were analyzed in a cross-sectional study on 2,031 participants.

The participants’ cognitive abilities were tested through a number of assessments, including the Trail Making Test, the Digit Symbol Test, the Kendrick Object Learning Test, Block Design, Controlled Oral Word Association Test, and Mini-Mental State Examination.

The researchers discovered that,

“Participants who consumed chocolate, wine, or tea had significantly better mean test scores and lower prevalence of poor cognitive performance than those who did not.”

Furthermore, the highest scores were achieved by those who consumed chocolate, wine, and tea, rather than just one or two of the foodstuffs.

The researchers also took note of which doses seemed to be most effective, which for chocolate came out to roughly 10 g per day.

So while there is not currently much in the way of research on chocolate and human brain health, there is enough of a foundation that further studies are warranted.

KEY POINT: Animal research indicates that eating chocolate may have benefits for brain health and functioning.

In particular, it seems effective to pair up chocolates with other foodstuffs which are high in flavonoids such as wine or tea.

​5. Eating chocolate can help improve your mood.

Many people are in the habit of eating chocolate when they are depressed or anxious.

This may make you wonder whether there is any particular scientific rationale behind this preference for chocolate.

woman eating chocolate with better mood

Research has been conducted into the matter, such as this study (16).

During the study, subjects were assigned to eat either an apple or bar of chocolate or nothing.

The researchers then took a look at their mood states within periods of 5, 30, 60, and 90 minutes.

It was found that on the whole, both foods lead to improvements in mood, but the effects of chocolate were more pronounced.

Mostly, the emotions associated with the chocolate were positive, characterized by the researchers as “joy.”

In some participants (women specifically), there was also guilt, which the researchers attributed to "negative food-related cognitions."

Wondering what the mechanism is for chocolate’s mood-enhancing properties?

The answer, at least in part, seems to involve the presence of theobromine.

This compound is a methylxanthine which acts on the central nervous system.

One methylxanthine you may be more familiar with is caffeine.

This is why some of the feel-good effects you associate with caffeine also seem to be present when you are eating chocolate.

In this article (50), you can read more about the role if theobromine in cocoa.

The researchers state,

“Caffeine has been classically considered with higher potential than other methylxanthines. Recent studies have highlighted the potential of theobromine, which may act as antitumoral, anti-inflammatory or cardiovascular protector molecule without the undesirable side effects described for caffeine,” 
and also, 
“These compounds [theobromine and caffeine] influence in a positive way our moods and our state of alertness.”

Additionally, chocolate interacts in a helpful manner with key neurotransmitters (51).

You actually are consuming serotonin when you eat chocolate, and you are taking in tyrosine as well, which is a dopamine precursor.

These excellent cognitive properties of chocolate may also give it neuroprotective powers (51).

This may make it a good choice for cognitive impairment, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and more.

KEY POINT: It is common for people who are depressed to eat chocolate in order to feel better. 

Whether the associated improvement in mood is derived from physiological changes or cultural or personal expectations, it is backed by research.

The presence of compounds such as theobromine as well as its positive effects on neurotransmitters may also contribute to its mood and cognition enhancing effects.

​6. Dark chocolate has a ton of nutrition.

If you read through the nutritional info I shared with you carefully, you know that chocolate is a food which provides you with a hearty dose of minerals and vitamins.

dark chocolate powder, liquid and bars on board

Dark chocolate is particularly high in:

Manganese

This important nutrient has antioxidant effects, and plays roles in bone development, metabolism, and the healing of wounds (3).

Copper

Your body needs copper to aid in the development of connective tissue. It also is necessary for energy production and other key functions (4).

Magnesium

You need magnesium to produce energy. It also assists with cell signaling and helps to move ions in and out of cells (17).

Iron

You need iron for blood cells, but it plays many other important roles in your body as well (18).

Phosphorus

This nutrient is necessary for the function of cell membranes (19).

Like many other minerals on this list, it also assists with cell signaling as well as the production of energy.

Zinc

Just as phosphorus is needed for cell membranes, so is zinc.

Additionally, hundreds of types of enzymes cannot do their jobs without the presence of zinc (20).

Potassium

The membrane potential of your cells relies on potassium (21). Without this potential, muscles and nerves are unable to function.

So if you want to increase your intake of these vital nutrients all at once, eating chocolate on a regular basis is a great way to do it.

KEY POINT: Dark chocolate provides your body with nourishment in the form of manganese, magnesium, copper, phosphorus, zinc, potassium, and other essential nutrients.

​7. It is possible that your blood pressure could be reduced by eating dark chocolate.

Previously, I mentioned that there appear to be a number of cardiovascular benefits to eating dark chocolate.

Now I would like to elaborate on a few of those, starting with dark chocolate’s effects on blood pressure.

Checking blood pressure

I have already talked a bit about the flavanols which dark chocolate contains and some of their benefits for your health.

But one thing I did not mention is that these flavanols play a role in vascular function, namely by stimulating nitric oxide production (22).

Low nitric oxide levels can play a role in high blood pressure. Without nitric oxide, your arteries are taut and constrictive.

When you eat dark chocolate, you provide your arteries with the flavanols they need to manufacture more nitric oxygen in their lining.

Studies (23, 24, 25, 26) on the whole show that this action can result in a reduction in blood pressure.

The results are not usually particularly dramatic, but they are measurable.

One Harvard meta-study (52) took a look at 24 different studies for a total of 1,106 participants.

The dark chocolate lowered blood pressure across the board for everyone who consumed it, but the improvements were most pronounced in those who suffered from hypertension.

One of the study’s researchers, Eric Ding, also mentioned that chocolate can improve insulin sensitivity, which in turn helps to prevent diabetes.

This same study also found that chocolate raised HDL while lowering LDL. No effect was seen for triglycerides.

Meanwhile, another study (53) found that systolic blood pressure decreases if 30 g of dark chocolate are consumed every day for at least 15 days.

Furthermore (54), similar excellent results for blood pressure were found in another double blind study over a longer time period.

Over the course of eight weeks, the 60 subjects participating ate 25 g of chocolate daily.

In that study, researchers compared the effects of white chocolate versus dark chocolate on the cardiovascular profiles of diabetic participants.

The white chocolate did nothing to improve blood pressure, however the dark chocolate did.

There were also improvements for fasting blood sugar, but no change for inflammatory markers, weight, glycemic control or insulin resistance.

Do not forget however that these positive effects of eating dark chocolate could be offset by sugar content if you are a diabetic.

So try and stick with chocolates which are as low in sugar as possible, or contain no sugar at all.

You now have seen some demonstrations of the benefits of dark chocolate for blood pressure.

But this is not to say that there is no conflicting evidence (27). More research may help to clarify why a few studies have discovered no improvements.

We may be able to hazard a guess however. Take this (55) study which was conducted on children.

Blood pressure was much the same between the experimental group that ate the dark chocolate and the control group which did not.

Even the researchers however noted the low dose which they selected (7 g) might not have been adequate, and that it might be wise to try again in the future with a higher dose.

KEY POINT: There is evidence which suggests that dark chocolate may help to reduce blood pressure via the mechanism of nitric oxide production.

This benefit may be dose-dependent (more research is needed in this area).  

8. Reduce LDL cholesterol.

If you keep an eye on your cholesterol levels, you probably are cognizant that there are two types of cholesterol: LDL and HDL.

happy little boy eating whole bar of chocolate listening to his heart with stethoscope isolated on grey wall background.

LDL cholesterol is often referred to as the “bad” cholesterol, while HDL is often referred to as the “good” cholesterol.

If possible, you want to eat foods which help to push down your LDL cholesterol while boosting your HDL cholesterol.

Research has shown that eating chocolate can help to reduce LDL.

For example, in a study (28) on young athletes, chocolate which contained flavanols was found to reduce both LDL cholesterol and blood pressure.

Another study (29) discovered that,

“Plasma oxidized LDL concentrations decreased in the low-, middle-, and high-cocoa groups compared with baseline.”

So whether you eat a little bit of cocoa or a lot, it can help to reduce your LDL cholesterol.

And actually, the benefits for LDL cholesterol go even further than that.

LDL cholesterol becomes problematic when it becomes oxidized.

You probably are already somewhat familiar with free radicals and the harm they can cause through oxidation in your body.

That damage may extend to LDL cholesterol as well (30, 31, 32).

When that happens, it can spread, causing vascular deterioration.

Multiple studies show that not only do the antioxidants in chocolate help reduce LDL levels overall, but they also can reduce the oxidation of LDL (33, 34, 35).

This makes the LDL you do have in your body less injurious to your tissues.

KEY POINT: Eating dark chocolate in large , moderate, or small amounts can lower LDL cholesterol, improving your cardiovascular markers.

9. Raise HDL cholesterol.

As previously mentioned, HDL is known as the “good” cholesterol.

The reason it is referred to that way is because it is a balancing force in the body.

chocolate shreds in shape of heart

Basically, HDL extracts the “bad” cholesterol and passes it off to your liver.

Your liver, as you likely are aware, cleanses unwanted substances from your body - including “bad” cholesterol.

That means that low HDL levels can result in higher LDL levels.

Higher HDL levels on the other hand may help to keep “bad” cholesterol under control.

Studies have shown that while chocolate decreases LDL, it increases HDL (36, 37, 38).

So this is yet another way that eating chocolate can protect your cardiovascular health.

KEY POINT: If you want to stop bad cholesterol from taking over your body, one of the most effective ways to do it is by raising your HDL levels.

Dark chocolate has been shown to do just that.

10. It is possible that eating chocolate has a positive effect on your eyesight.

Many people who are interested in consuming dark chocolate for health reasons are aware of its potential benefits for cardiovascular well-being.

But did you know it might also be good for your eyes?

cheery brown haired woman with bright makeup holding chocolate bar at her face isolated over blue background

One fascinating study (39) investigated the effects of both dark and milk chocolate and visual acuity.

It was a small study with only 30 participants, all of whom had healthy eyesight.

The researchers discovered that those who ate the dark chocolate had greater improvements to both large and small letter contrast sensitivity than those who ate the milk chocolate.

Improvements to visual acuity were measured as well.

If you're wondering about the timing of this study, participants took the vision tests about two hours after they eat the chocolate.

As of right now, the researchers do not have any data on how long the improvements from eating the chocolate last.

It is also unknown whether there is any cumulative long-term improvement to eyesight from eating chocolate on a regular basis.

Nonetheless, even with these limitations, it is an interesting glimpse into the potential for chocolate to improve eyesight.

So if you are reading this as a young person, you know that the next time your parents say, "Eat your carrots; they're good for your eyesight," you could respond with, "Surely you mean that I should eat my chocolate. Chocolate is good for my eyes."

KEY POINT: Initial research into chocolate and eyesight shows improvements in visual acuity and contrast detection, particularly when dark chocolate is consumed.

11. Possibly prevent cancer.

For decades, researchers have searched for a way to prevent or cure cancer.

Studies are ongoing, but nothing entirely reliable has yet been identified.

pink badge on woman chest to support breat cancer cause

Scientists do sometimes discover that certain foods seem to exert an anti-cancer effect though.

Research into chocolate and cancer is still in the early stages, but scientists have found some initial evidence which suggests that certain compounds in chocolate may curb cancer cell growth (40).

These include the flavanols we have already talked about, as well as flavonoids known as procyanidins.

It is far too early to state conclusively that chocolate can help to prevent cancer, but these initial studies do seem to paint a hopeful picture.

KEY POINT: There is some initial research which indicates that chocolate compounds may be able to prevent cancer.

12. Protect your skin from the sun.

The next time someone reminds you to put on some sunscreen for a day at the beach, perhaps you should bring some chocolates with you to enjoy as well.

As it turns out, there are multiple studies (42, 43) which demonstrate that the flavanols in chocolate can help to keep UV rays from damaging skin.

broken dark chocolate pieces

Researchers in the first study linked above have noted that this effect is only observable with chocolates which contain a high flavanol content (such as dark chocolate).

There was no improvement in UV resistance among the participants who were eating the chocolate that was low in flavanols.

Those who were eating the chocolate high in flavanols experienced a dramatic benefit however.

Their UV resistance after consuming the chocolates for the experimental period was nearly twice what it was at the baseline.

As to the second study linked above, it shows that the benefits of dark chocolate for skin are manifold.

Along with improvements to UV resistance, consuming dark chocolate can increase the moisture in your skin and also increase its density.

This can help keep skin looking and feeling youthful, smooth and luxurious.

Just keep in mind that taking a box of chocolates with you to the beach does not replace the need to fall back on traditional methods of sun protection.

The effect does not come close to that of sunscreen or shade, so do not rely on chocolates alone. You will end up getting sunburned.

Plus, chocolates at the beach on a hot day have a tendency to melt.

Naturally, this is not the ideal way to enjoy your chocolates, or your day at the beach.

So spare your chocolates from the sun, and enjoy them before you set out.

KEY POINT: Want to prevent skin damage from sunlight?

Dark chocolate may not make your sunscreen obsolete, but it can provide you with an extra level of protection while also benefiting your skin in other respects.


​Where Can You Find the Best Dark Chocolates for a Keto Diet?

Now that you are acquainted with the benefits of dark chocolate, you are probably ready to add it to your recipes and enjoy it as a snack.

If you are looking for the best dark chocolates to buy to maximize your nutritional benefits while keeping carbs to a minimum, please see my article with reviews.

​Next, I ​will share some tasty recipes which you can make using dark chocolate.

KEY POINT: For a selection of keto-friendly chocolates, please see my article on Best Low Carb Keto Chocolates.

​4 Low Carb Keto Chocolate Recipes
to Try​

​Once you have selected some fine ingredients, what are some low-carb chocolate recipes you can make?

Here are a few ideas to get you started.

1. Chocolate-Peanut Butter Keto Cups

This is a keto dessert recipe which is rich in fat.

This makes it not only a delicious way to round up your day, but a convenient option for snacking when you need some extra energy.

chocolate peanut cup

It is also a no-bake recipe, which makes it easy to prepare in any kitchen.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup coconut oil
  • ½ cup peanut butter
  • 1 tablespoon cocoa powder
  • 2 tablespoons heavy cream
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon liquid stevia
  • 1 ounce peanuts, chopped, roasted and salted

Directions:

  1. ​Start by putting a saucepan on low heat. Pour in the coconut oil and melt it.
  2. Add the peanut butter. Stir it into the coconut oil.
  3. Once the peanut butter and coconut oil are combined, whisk in the remaining ingredients: the liquid stevia, the cocoa powder, the heavy cream, the salt, and the vanilla extract.
  4. Get a muffin mold with 12 cups, and pour the mixture inside.
  5. Distribute the peanuts across the tops.
  6. Put the muffin mold in your freezer for an hour or longer.
  7. ​Pull the muffin mold out, and remove each of the finished chocolate peanut butter keto cups.
  8. Store the keto cups in a sealed plastic food bin or a plastic bag.

2. Keto Brownies

If you want to enjoy rich, delicious chocolate brownies without the sugar, you can bake this recipe which uses a stevia-based sweetener instead.

chocolate brownies blocks

Note that if you want to use pure stevia, you must only use a small amount, so you will need to make sure to fill in the missing mass somehow (look up baking substitution ideas for suggestions).

Ingredients:

  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¾ cup cocoa powder
  • 2 eggs
  • 2/3 coconut oil, divided into two batches (1/3 cup each)
  • 1 1/3 cups almond flour
  • ½ cup boiling water
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup stevia-based sugar substitute (i.e. Truvia)
  • ¼ teaspoon salt

Directions:

  1. ​Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Get an 8-inch square pan and grease it using coconut oil.
  3. In a bowl, whisk together baking soda and cocoa powder.
  4. Pour in 1/3 cup coconut oil and ½ cup boiling water.
  5. Stir everything together.
  6. Pour in another 1/3 cup coconut oil and add the eggs and stevia-based sweetener.
  7. Continue mixing all ingredients.
  8. Fold in the vanilla extract, salt and almond flour. By now, you will have a batter.
  9. Pour the completed batter into your baking pan.
  10. Put the pan in the oven and bake for 30-40 minutes. The brownies should be done when the top is no longer moist.
  11. Pull the brownies out and wait for them to cool before you cut them.

3. Paleo and Keto Almond Butter Mocha for Two

This tasty beverage is intended to offer a quick, delicious way to fuel up on your energy.

almond butter cocoa mocha

Note that it is portioned for two people, so if you want to just make it for yourself, cut the ingredient amounts in half.

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon almond butter
  • 1 ½ cups almond milk, warmed up
  • 2 tablespoons instant espresso powder
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon cocoa powder, unsweetened
  • ½ teaspoon stevia powder

Directions:

  1. ​Pour the almond butter, almond milk, cocoa powder, espresso powder, vanilla extract and stevia powder into a food processor.
  2. Turn the blender on for around two minutes.
  3. Pour the beverage into two glasses.
  4. Put a light dusting of cocoa powder on the top of each.

4. Make Your Own Dark Chocolate

​Finally, wouldn’t it be sweet (pun intended) if you could mix your own dark chocolate from scratch and put in just as much sweetening as you want?

Pouring chocolate into mold

Here is a recipe for making dark chocolate at home without sugar.

Ingredients:

  • 200g unsweetened baking chocolate
  • 50 g cacao butter
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons erythritol (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract (optional)
  • 1 shot espresso (optional as well)

Directions:

  1. ​Get a saucepan and boil some water inside.
  2. Place a bowl over top of the saucepan and pour in the chocolate and cacao butter.
  3. Add in the erythritol.
  4. ​Stir in the salt.
  5. If you want a dash of extra flavor, put in the vanilla extract and/or espresso shot.
  6. Continue stirring until you achieve the smooth texture you are after.
  7. Pour the finished chocolate into a mold.
  8. Place the mold in your fridge for at least several hours.

That is all there is to it. You now can enjoy a bar of chocolate with just the right sweetness and flavor, completely free of sugar.


Conclusion: Dark Chocolate May Not Be as Sinful As You Think

We tend to think of chocolate as a form of indulgence, since we associate it with sugary desserts which are high in carbs.

But dark chocolate actually confers quite a few health benefits.

You can enjoy those benefits while foregoing the high sugar if you are selective about the chocolates you purchase.

Stick with dark chocolate for snacks and recipes as well as unsweetened baker’s chocolate.

This will ensure that you are getting the nutritional value of chocolate without the drawbacks of sugary desserts.

Since going on a low carb diet, I actually have increased my chocolate consumption rather than decreasing it.

Because I enjoy dark chocolate in moderation, I have been able to do this without racking up a high carb count, and you can too.

So enjoy your low carb chocolates … without all the guilt!

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  • Updated September 13, 2018

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Wow, that was a huge article. Thanks! I don’t need a whole lot of convincing to eat dark chocolate! Thank God there are benefits!

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