Health Benefits Of Cacao And Chocolate

World Chocolate Day seems like a good occasion to revel in the taste and comfort of chocolate. But it is also an apt day to celebrate chocolate, not as a guilty pleasure but as food that can actually be healthy and nourishing. 

There are three major kinds of chocolate varieties popularly consumed across the world: milk, dark and white. Another variety is the ruby chocolate made from Brazilian cacao nibs. Released in the food market in 2017, this wonderfully pink coloured chocolate is known for its fruity notes and a slightly sour taste.

Different types of chocolate are used in varied desserts according to their consistency, texture and taste. But chocolate consumed in its compound form without the addition of pastry or sugar has more health benefits than a chocolate dessert. Sugar tends to break down the cacao solids, particularly in dark chocolate, reducing their nutrient content.


Cacao is where the story of chocolate begins. The cacao tree bears a fleshy fruit whose seed, the cocoa bean is the key ingredient that goes into making chocolate. Raw cacao has been rediscovered in recent times as an Amazonian superfood that can be obtained by cold-pressing unroasted cacao. 

Health Benefits:

-- Raw organic cacao, less processed than chocolate, has numerous health benefits. It is far richer in antioxidants so having cacao powder can reduce cell and tissue damage. 

-- Cacao is also a great plant-based source of iron and can be combined with vitamin C-rich fruits like oranges for optimum absorption in the body. 

-- It is rich in magnesium and calcium as well as being a good food for releasing happy hormones like serotonin and tryptophan. 

Health Benefits Of Chocolate

While raw cacao has numerous health benefits, chocolate contains nutrient value as well. The health benefits of dark chocolate have been widely known, discussed and debated. They are rich in antioxidants and great for skin and hair. But milk and white chocolates also have certain properties that are good for the body if consumed in measured proportions. Read on to know more about the health benefits of the three popular kinds of chocolates:

Milk Chocolate

Milk chocolate is a subdued form of dark chocolate made by adding milk powder to a dark compound. Invented by the Swiss chocolatier Daniel Peter in the late 19th century, milk chocolate quickly became popular for its creaminess and sweet profile used to make a host of different candy bars. 

Health Benefits: 

-- Although milk chocolate has a higher level of sugar than a dark compound, it is still said to be useful because of its antioxidant and calcium content. 

-- For those who like chocolate, eating a bite instantly boosts dopamine inducing feelings of pleasure and happiness. 

-- Milk chocolate also has other benefits including improving brain function because of its magnesium content. 

-- Contrary to popular belief, the compound theobromine in milk chocolate actually helps in hardening tooth enamel and reducing the risk of tooth decay.

White Chocolate

White chocolate is made of cocoa butter, milk and sugar and of all chocolate varieties has the highest proportion of dairy solids. Invented by Nestle, it has a shorter shelf life because of its reduced antioxidant content. Tempered white chocolate is popularly used for decorating desserts.

Health Benefits: 

-- White chocolate slows skin aging because the fat content in cocoa butter helps to reduce wrinkles and fine lines. 

-- It is ideal for those with caffeine intolerance as it reduces the risk of insomnia, heartburn and irritableness. 

-- Some studies indicate that white chocolate also helps to control hypertension and promotes cardiovascular health.

Dark Chocolate

Cocoa solids extracted from cocao nibs after separating them from cocoa butter make this purest form of chocolate. Highest in cocoa content, dark chocolate is lightly sweetened and is generally considered to be dairy free. There are bittersweet or semi-sweet variants of dark chocolate too, but each of these retains its high proportion of cocoa.

Health Benefits: 

-- Dark chocolate is rich in antioxidants which means that it can flush toxins out of the body, eliminate free radicals and reduce oxidative stress. 

-- It keeps cholesterol levels in check and boosts overall cardiovascular health. 

-- Studies indicate that dark chocolate is rich in magnesium, manganese, zinc and potassium, so a piece of chocolate after a meal is good for increasing nutrient content in the body. 

-- Dark chocolate can also help in losing excess calories because it can potentially improve metabolism.