Regular chocolate eaters welcome a host of benefits for their hearts, including lower blood pressure, lower “bad” LDL cholesterol and a lower risk of heart disease. One of the reasons dark chocolate is especially heart-healthy is its inflammation-fighting properties, which reduce cardiovascular risk, but don’t overindulge! Chocolate is still rich in calories, sugar, and fat that can bust your diet if you overdo it.
Chocolate contains powerful antioxidants called flavonoids, as well as some magnesium. These nutrients may help lower blood pressure and reduce your risk of heart disease and stroke.
Dark chocolate’s potential health benefits certainly don’t give you a free pass to overindulge, though. You’ll still need to watch your portions. That’s because even dark chocolate contains calories, fat, and sugar that will lead to weight gain if you overdo it, so be strategic about incorporating this treat into your diet. The best dark-chocolate varieties contain only one type of fat — cocoa butter — and do not contain added palm oil, coconut oil, or milk fat. Technically, they’re all saturated fats, but cocoa butter has a neutral effect on cholesterol levels, so it won’t raise your blood cholesterol the way other saturated fats will.
Aside from the potential to cause weight gain, chocolate does have other negative effects: It can be a powerful migraine trigger because it contains both caffeine and the amino acids tyramine and phenylethylamine. Chocolate can also trigger IBS symptoms in some people. If you experience discomfort after consuming chocolate, consider limiting your consumption or avoiding it altogether.