Meet Mark

Let me introduce myself. My name is Mark Sisson. I’m 63 years young. I live and work in Malibu, California. In a past life I was a professional marathoner and triathlete. Now my life goal is to help 100 million people get healthy. I started this blog in 2006 to empower people to take full responsibility for their own health and enjoyment of life by investigating, discussing, and critically rethinking everything we’ve assumed to be true about health and wellness...

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February 21 2012

Why You Should Eat and Drink High-Cacao Dark Chocolate

By Mark Sisson
268 Comments

Yes, I know, I know. That title isn’t exactly comforting. I hate giving you guys bad news, seeing as how you make this website possible, and I hate making unpopular recommendations like “eat more butter” or “get some sun” or “drink a glass of red wine,” but I have to stick to the truth here, even if it hurts. And the truth is that you should probably be eating dark chocolate on a semi-regular basis because the stuff is pretty dang good for you. Before you log out, never to return again, give me a minute to explain myself:

You were kids once. Your parents probably forced you to finish your overcooked, mushy, bland veggies or wash your hands and finish your homework – or some other routine unpleasantry – “for your own good,” and that’s what I’m doing here. Dark chocolate is healthy. It may be awful, terrible, and disgusting, but it contains some really good things that have some remarkable effects on various markers of health. So, yeah, eat your chocolate. Finish your raw cacao powder. Choke down that homemade hot chocolate. Hold your noses if you have to, but get it down and done.

I’m kidding, of course. There’s no arm twisting required when it comes to chocolate. If there’s one thing I know, it’s that the Primal community can suck down some high quality dark chocolate. Don’t think I didn’t see how quickly that chocolate disappeared at last year’s PrimalCon. And why wouldn’t it? Dark chocolate’s great, the perfect storm of flavor, flavonoids, and fat. It tastes really good, comes loaded with polyphenols, and cocoa butter is a great source of saturated and monounsaturated fat. High-cacao dark chocolate, then, is quite literally a healthy candy bar. What’s not to love?

I’ve discussed my favorite dark chocolate in the past. I’ve even provided chocolate-choosing tips. But until today, I’ve never really explained why we should be including high-cacao dark chocolate in our diets. I’ve never explicitly outlined the myriad health benefits that cacao offers. Well, let’s get to it, shall we?

Dark chocolate contains healthy fats.

Cocoa butter, which is extracted from the cacao bean and incorporated into most reputable dark chocolate bars, is mostly monounsaturated and saturated fat, with very little polyunsaturated fat. And because most of that saturated fat is stearic acid, widely known for having neutral effects on LDL, even avowed lipophobes can happily and heartily gobble up cacao fat.

Dark chocolate contains lots of polyphenols, particularly flavanols.

When it comes to polyphenol content and antioxidant capacity, cacao trounces the “superfruits” acai, pomegranate, cranberry, blueberry and whatever else your annoying friend who always falls for multilevel marketing schemes is hawking this week. The most studied polyphenol in cacao is epicatechin, a flavanol. Although last week’s post on the benefits of polyphenol consumption centered on pigment-derived antioxidants, cacao’s polyphenols are also quite potent and potentially healthful.

What happens when the rubber hits the road, though? Or, somewhat more literally, what happens when the square of polyphenol-rich dark chocolate melts on the tongue, is swallowed, digested, and incorporated into the body? What are the actual health benefits of consuming high-cacao content dark chocolate?

Dark chocolate and blood pressure.

Epidemiological studies pretty consistently show that dark chocolate consumption is related to lower blood pressure readings. In Jordan, among Kuna Indians living in Panama, among pregnant women, and among elderly Dutch, this holds true. That’s all well and good, but it’s just an association. We need controlled studies:

One found that fifteen days of eating dark chocolate, but not white chocolate, lowered blood pressure (and improved insulin sensitivity) in healthy subjects. The main difference between white and dark chocolate is the polyphenol content; both types contain cocoa fat. Cocoa consumption also improved arterial flow in smokers.

Some studies suggest that the flavonoids are key. In one, flavanol-rich dark chocolate consumption improved endothelial function while increasing plasma levels of flavanols (which indicates the flavanols had something to do with it). Another study used flavanol-rich cocoa to increase nitric oxide production in healthy humans, thus inducing vasodilation and improving endothelial function. In another, the highest dose of cacao flavanoids caused the biggest drop in blood pressure. Still another found that while dark chocolate did not reduce blood pressure, improve lipids, nor reduce oxidative stress, it did improve coronary circulation.

Or maybe it’s the soluble fiber. In “spontaneously hypertensive” rats, cacao-derived soluble fiber lowered blood pressure, perhaps by reducing weight gain.

It’s probably both, in my opinion, although the polyphenols undoubtedly contribute more to the cause than the five grams or so of soluble fiber you’ll get in the average serving of dark chocolate.

Dark chocolate and cardiovascular disease.

You’ve heard of the cholesterol-fed rabbit; how about the cocoa-fed rabbit? If the former is an effective vehicle to study the negative effects of poor lipid clearance, the latter is a testament to the inhibitory effects of cocoa polyphenols on lipid peroxidation. We also have similar findings in rodents. Feeding hypercholesterolemic and normocholesterolemic rats polyphenol-rich “cocoa fiber” (defatted, sugar-free chocolate, basically) reduced markers of lipid peroxidation in both groups (PDF). It also seems to work quite well in test tubes.

In humans, both with normal and elevated cholesterol levels, eating cocoa powder mixed with hot water lowered oxidized LDL and ApoB (LDL particle number, which, if you remember my post on lipid panels, you want to lower) counts while increasing HDL. All three doses of high-flavanol cocoa powder – 13, 19.5, and 26 g/day – proved beneficial. If you’re wondering, 26 grams of powder is about a quarter cup. It also works if you drink it with milk (and no, Hershey’s syrup doesn’t work the same).

Given the effects of chocolate on lipid peroxidation, we can probably surmise that it will also lower the risk of cardiovascular disease. And indeed, epidemiological studies suggest that this is the case. In a sample of over 2200 patients (PDF), chocolate consumption was inversely associated with progression of atherosclerotic plaque (determined by calcium scoring). What’s incredible is that the association held for chocolate in general, and I don’t think it’s likely that everyone was consuming 100% raw cacao powder brimming with polyphenols. A study from this year from the same group got similar results: chocolate consumption was inversely associated with prevalent cardiovascular disease.

While most cacao research focuses on vascular function and heart disease risk, there are other, less intensively-studied benefits. Here are a few of them:

Dark chocolate and insulin resistance.

For fifteen days, hypertensive, glucose-intolerant patients received either 100 daily grams of high-polyphenol dark chocolate or 100 daily grams of zero-polyphenol white chocolate. Diets were isocaloric, and nothing differed between the groups besides the type of chocolate. Dark chocolate improved beta cell function, lowered blood pressure, increased insulin sensitivity, and improved endothelial function, while white chocolate did none of those things.

Dark chocolate and fatty liver.

Rats with fatty liver evince higher levels of oxidative stress and inflammation, but cocoa supplementation partially attenuated these pathological changes – even in choline-deficient rats. While cocoa wasn’t enough to fully resolve fatty liver, the researchers concluded that cocoa may be of therapeutic benefit in “less severe” forms of fatty liver.

Dark chocolate and UV damage.

Resistance to UV damage is commonly measured by MED – minimal erythema dose. A higher MED means greater resistance to UV rays, while a lower MED indicates lower resistance. High MED, good. Low MED, bad. One study found that feeding high levels of dark chocolate to healthy people over twelve weeks doubled their MED; feeding low levels of dark chocolate had no effect on the MED.

Similarly, another study found that a high-flavanol-from-cacao group had greater resistance to a given UV dosage than a low-flavanol-from-cacao group (who actually saw no benefit at all) over a six and twelve-week period.

Those interested in a fairly comprehensive compendium of chocolate research can check it out here. I tried to stick to in vivo research, but there’s more theoretical stuff out there too.

Seeing as how most of chocolate’s benefits stem from the polyphenol content, and most of the studies that saw large effects used “high-flavanol” dark chocolate, you should be gunning for chocolate with high polyphenol counts. Dutch processed, or alkalized, chocolate lightens the color, removes some of the bitter compounds, and gives it a milder taste. Awesome for Hershey’s Kisses, but awful for the flavanol content. Those “bitter compounds,” you see, are the flavanols. Without the bitterness (which I think of as complexity), you’re missing most of the beneficial polyphenols. It might taste good, but it won’t perform all of the aforementioned physiological tasks. To quantify the extent of the degradation, check out the results of this study on the flavanol contents of cacao powders subjected to various degrees of alkalization:

  • Natural – 34.6 mg/g
  • Lightly processed – 13.8 mg/g
  • Medium processed – 7.8 mg/g
  • Heavily processed – 3.9 mg/g

Once you’ve got a lead on some good chocolate with high cacao and lower sugar levels, eat a few squares a sitting. Exercise restraint, however, as it is still candy and it shouldn’t make up a large block of calories. Treat it like a condiment, or even a medicinal adjunct to an otherwise solid diet. If you’re sensitive to stimulants, avoid chocolate too close to bedtime.

If you get your hands on some high quality cacao powder (raw – which is actually fermented – or roasted, but never Dutch processed), try making coconut cacao milk. Mix half a (BPA-free) can or carton of coconut milk with a couple tablespoons of cacao powder. Heat on the stove until almost simmering. Add sweetener to taste and, if you’re adventurous, a bit of cayenne, cinnamon, and turmeric. Enjoy!

Anyway, that’s it for today. I think I’ve presented the case for high-cacao dark chocolate – not that you were exactly a tough crowd or anything! Thanks for reading and be sure to give your thoughts – including quality sources and recommended methods of ingestion – in the comment section!

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268 thoughts on “Why You Should Eat and Drink High-Cacao Dark Chocolate”

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    1. I can’t fine anywhere on the chocolate bar where it shows how much polyphenol it contains?????

      1. Go with Santa Barbara Chocolate. 100% Dark and Organic. Great to just eat, make candy, or use as I do to make my heart happy–also works as an internal “sunscreen.” Prices are pretty good for 3lbs and at retailmenot.com get coupon! Go Primal/Paleo ;o)

  1. After reading this, I feel so good about my dark chocolate hot chocolate indulgence last night.

    We have a number of chocolate shoppes in our area and it is such a hardship to have to taste test my way through them. 🙂

  2. Time to go to my local health food store and get some supar-dark chocolate! :]

  3. With the amount of chocolate I consume, I could be the healthiest person on the earth 🙂

  4. My daily afternoon snack is 2 squares 100% cacao and 2 tablespoons of coconut oil. Take a small bite of cacao and a small bite of coconut oil.

    …Tim

    1. Before I tasted 99% cacao I would put a drop or 2 of honey on a 100% cacao square. I’ve never tried coconut oil on a 100% cacao square but I am sure it is divine!

      1. For some reason, the coconut oil seems to add a slight hint of sweetness, just enough to make it work and not taste bitter.

    2. I’ve been making “cocoa” with hot water, coconut oil, KG butter, & cocoa powder…

        1. Bulletproof hot cocoa FTW!!

          1 tablespoon cocoa powder
          1 teaspoon coconut oil
          2 tablespoons grass-fed butter
          12 ounces boiling water
          Flavoring (Optional: cinnamon OR vanilla extract OR mint extract)
          Stevia (optional)

          The key is to whizz it with a handblender, food processor, or quick whisking until it foams.

      1. Oxide,
        When you use the hand blender do you use the attachment with the blade or the whisk?
        Thank you.

    3. Here is something new for me to try. Thanks for the idea!

      My favorite daily snack is high quality dark chocolate with fruit or berries. Quick, satisfying, delicious and healthy!

  5. for years i’ve been making a “chocolate tonic” for cold drinking, of 1 t. of cocoa per cup of water, with a smidge of sea-salt, brought to a simmer and allowed to cool. recently, i’ve been experimenting with making it into a water-kefir (no sweetener added), and it shows promise….

  6. I am a big advocate of dark chocolate. High quality dark chocolate is good for you and tastes great. I think there is no better way to satisfy your craving for sweets. Of course, moderation is the key.

    1. Seriously! That is exactly how I feel. Yesterday, we were told it’s perfectly fine to drink coffee before workouts. Bacon is unlimited. Now, this. I may actually die of happiness instead of some degenerative disease.

      1. I so agree, diet? what diet? OMG I love this way of life, Ive never felt more alive, more fulfilled and less hungry OR looked so good. I eat 85% dark chocolate daily, and with a red wine it totally rocks.

  7. I’m buying an 85%cacao bar from Trader Joes. It’s Colombian chocolate and contains cocoa mass, sugar, soy lecithin, natural vanilla. One small square has a minimal amount of sugar, some fiber and about 20calories. That’s a snack for me midday, so I have time to manage the sugar effect. My question is: is that a “good” kind of chocolate to have? Does the cocoa/cacao have high acrylamide content?

    Love that dark chocolate makes the primal cut!

  8. I like the 80%. I would like to try 85% but I can’t find it. The PCC by my house only carries up to 70%. I have to travel all the way to Metropolitan Market to get the good stuff.
    When I die I’ll be able to tell heaven form hell by weather there is any dark chocolate and red wine.

    1. Try looking online. I recently took delivery of 20 bars of 85% Dark Chocolate from Amazon.

    2. Does your store have an organic section? That’s where I found my current dark chocolate. I can get 72% and 88% pretty consistently, and I recently found some 85%.

  9. 90% Lindt for me….not organic unfortunately but it makes me positively squirm with delight every time I taste it.

    1. I like to have a piece of dark chocolate with my butter coffee.

    2. Amen, sister. I just found that on the shelves, and bought two bars, which have lasted for three weeks, now.

      I think it’s time to up my chocolate intake!

    3. Yeah it’s Lindts 99% for me. I recently tried out Green& Black’s(funny I found it here in Germany) and I was amazed at the taste and texture. Mmmmmmhh <3

      Sad thing is, it disappeared from the Store 🙁

  10. So as far as Cocoa Powder goes, your recommendation is either Raw or Roasted Powder, are there specific brands that you reccomend?

  11. Def get my chocolate in and do my best to get fair trade too. There is a supplier at my farmers market that I buy some. Love it!

    1. Endangered Species 88% Extreme Dark is my favorite. It doesn’t seem to have an odd aftertaste I find in most of the really dark chocolates.

      And with a glass of great red wine! What a great dessert!

  12. Ahhhh… music to my ears. =)

    But, has anyone here ever had a problem with chocolate, or certain brands of chocolate, causing skin break-outs? Or being more or less “addictive” than some other brand? I love very dark chocolate but haven’t been able to figure out if it’s something I have to stay away from entirely (woe is me!) or if there’s some way around those problems. Any thoughts?

    1. i always (and by that i mean, since going primal) figured that the chocolate addictions, acne and sleeplessness of yore (and dire warnings from my mother) were down to high sugar and additives. i’d say self-experiment to be sure personally. hard to do it blind but you do the best you can.

    2. I always find that if I have the truly dark chocolate (85% minimum – my preference is Lindt 90% dark), then I get my chocolate hit in about 2 squares, and don’t overdo it.

      I’m a recovering sugar addict and a totally-not-recovering-at-all chocolate addict, and I think the sugar in the less dark versions is what causes all the problems.

      Your mileage may vary, though – if even the really dark stuff has bad side effects for you, maybe best not to push it.

      Good luck!

  13. I had 90% Lindt dissolving on my tongue as I opened my browser to find this great news!!

    Any Canadians may find that Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory has a great 91% bar. Seems smoother than the Lindt, I hope it isn’t because they use overly processed ingredients…

  14. Will I get the same health benefits from dissolving some Hershy’s unsweetened cocao powder in hot water as I would from ah 85% cocao dark chocolate bar?

  15. Hershey’s milk chocolate for me- 3 candy bars a day (just kidding!)
    Seriously, though, I once experimented with dark chocolate and my blood pressure (which if I’m not careful, can run high)-within 2 weeks of daily dark chocolate, my systolic went down noticeably.
    That being said, I wasn’t aware to the extent you wrote about, of some of the other benefits chocolate has. Thanks for the great article, Mark!

  16. Dark chocolate is far from sounding like a punishment to me! I like 85% – 90% since a long time before even switching to Primal.

    Primal life is definitely so good!

  17. Well thank goodness for this right?! I already eat a few squares of Green & Black’s 85% cocoa dark organic chocolate most days. The stuff just makes you happy. Plus I usually enjoy it with a glass of red wine, extra happy 😉

  18. Chocolate mixed with milk is tasty, but I have one problem with that. I’ve tried it twice, where I mixed some of the 100% cocoa with milk and drank it. Both times, within a short period of time, I felt really sleepy, and I went to sleep for like 13 hours, and I’m sure it was because of the chocolate. Does anyone know if this is normal?

    1. It sounds to me like you got a good shot of endorphins from the chocolate concoction. That’s a good thing! I just had a cup myself, and feel sleep stealing over me as I type.

  19. You are right on Mark! I’ve been enjoying raw cocoa in ALL it’s forms. It makes a great hot cocoa.

    My (current) favorite:
    16oz mug + green tea bag
    pour half full w/ boiling water
    steep 2 minutes
    add 1 Tbsp raw cacoa powder
    add spices like cayenne + cinnamon
    add pinch sea salt + tiny bit of vanilla
    plain + vanilla stevia to taste
    stir
    press tea bag and remove
    pour in some raw whole milk (or coconut milk)
    fill mug with remainder hot water

    1. I keep a continuous supply of avocado cocoa power pudding. I used to use banana, but now prefer to add coconut milk and some stevia. Works well with egg or whey protein powder.

        1. One thing I don’t get. The paleo crowd jumps all over the phytate anti-nutrient subject with regards to seeds/grains but cocoa powder is loaded with phytates, right? What gives?

  20. I like the 88% dark that has the picture of the panther on it. Can’t remember the brand, but it’s at the local grocery store in the organic section.

      1. I found it. It’s “Endangered Species” brand. 10% of profits go to help “species planet and humanity”.

        Look at the difference in sugar content of 70% vs 88 or 90%. It’s huge.

        1. Endangered Species’ 72% with cacao nibs – divine!! It’s the one with the bat on the label 🙂

    1. The brand is “Endangered Species”. My favorite also. Next is the 99% at World Market.

      1. I was loving the World Mkt 99% until I brought home a supply & discovered they had been mislabeled – hard to tell the exact percentage from tasting, but my guess was I’d been sold 70%. They took it all back but I am gun-shy & now order Dagoba 100% 6-oz baking bars from Amazon. Great Stuff!! Tried some of the sunspire 100% baking but found it too bitter.

        1. How did you find out it was mislabeled? That’s the chocolate I eat everyday 🙁

  21. Dr. Oz had a show recently where his guest recommended dark chocolate to increase sex drive. I keep leaving bars of it around the house for the Missus to discover…

  22. Grate some dark chocolate on whole fat Greek yogurt, sprinkle on some toasted almonds(a pinch of celtic sea salt) add some strawberries and you’ve got pure healthy decadence 🙂

  23. For a little extra. I’ve actually mixed up to 1:1 coconut milk and very neutral bone broth with a bit of cocoa(sweetening spices like cinammon, vanilla, etc). but if you make your broth with meaty bones don’t try this at home. The meat flavor is too strong.

  24. Okay, I set my jaw and read through your whole post…before I allowed myself to go to the pantry for a Lindt 90% bar. It was tough!

    I like that variety because it doesn’t contain the soy lecithin and I can afford it. I really found inspiration in the drink variations discussed. I’ve recently started honey and cinnamon plus coconut oil in my morning coffee. I’m thinking a spoonful of chocolate added might be nice.

    Thanks for the blessing, Mark!

  25. I’ve made my own Mounds bar… Melt said dark chocolate in a bowl with some CO. When melted stir in unsweetened coconut flakes. I put that in the freezer. When solid I break into pieces I keep in a bag in the freezer. Can’t get better then that!

  26. Taza has some good bar/tablets. Grainy, rustic texture and berry overtones. Their dark choc almonds, and chips are good too. no lecithin either.

    Many of the more common brands availible in stores are pretty earthy(read: dirt).

    Try tasting it like wine there are definite layers of flavors, textures,mouth feel.

    My sis swears by Amadei cru and finds Scharfenberger a little heavy handed and overpowering in its berry tones. side note: Sharfenberger is owned by Hershey’s and started adding Soy Lecithin in all of their bars.

  27. Wonderful stuff. Only problem is that as coeliacs, we have to make sure our chocolate isn’t contaminated with wheat. So far, we have proved (the hard way) that Lindt and Tesco’s own are safe. Any other recommendations for England?

    1. Try the Co-op 85% Ghanaian – very nice. Packaging says it may contain gluten, nuts & wheat – but guess they have to cover themselves.

    2. Try ordering from Ocado – these brands are great: Pralus, Cluizel and Valrhona.

  28. I have eaten even small amounts of organic 85% dark chocolate and it gave me what appeared to be insomnia like effects. This does not occur all the time however… but it has happened. Either I am crazy or I am having a reaction to the caffeine or theobromine in the chocolate. It could be some other strange reason for all that I know.

    Perhaps someone can shed some light on this.

    1. chocolate can keep you awake- it does have those stimulants in it. each person is sensitive to a different degree.

    2. Cancerclasses to the rescue! and Dave Asprey, @bulletproofexec dot com too for another possibility:

      “I’ve sampled high-end chocolate from around the world and finally settled on Lindt 90% dark chocolate as my preferred source. The reason is that Lindt has European standards for mold levels in chocolate, so the chocolate is surprisingly smooth and sweet for a chocolate that dark, and it’s lower in toxins than typical chocolate. In fact, many people who are “allergic” to chocolate are just responding to the naturally occurring toxins in cheap chocolate.”

      Also:
      “One of the reasons the Bulletproof Diet is different from a regular paleo diet is the special attention to toxins. Xenoestrogens, mycotoxins, and other substances can act as “obesigens” (compounds that make you fat). Plastics can leach BPA into your water which disrupts hormone production. Molds and fungi produce mycotoxins that can be in your food, your house, or your gut. Watch this video to learn how to avoid mycotoxins.” bulletproofexec DOT kom BACKSLASH bulletproof-body

      Sorry for the horn tootin’ there.

      1. More from Dave re chocolate:
        “I recommend European chocolates because the mold standards in Europe are better than in the US. Lindt is the most consistently mold-free in my experience, and it’s affordable and widely available at most grocery stores. But even so, about 20% of the batches of Lindt I try seem to have mycotoxin problems. I can tell because a) I’m hyper-trained to be aware of my mental and physical state and b) I used to live in a house with toxic mold, so my immune system is primed to respond quickly.

        You should buy a bar of Lindt 90% dark and try it on an empty stomach away from other foods. Watch how you feel – do you get joint pain, very dry mouth, stomach pain, or headaches? If so, that is not the batch for you. If you feel fine for the first hour or two, you’re probably eating good chocolate, and you can have more.”

        1. And a tiny bit more:
          “I highly recommend you store opened chocolate in the freezer or fridge, as the mold will continue to grow on opened bars of chocolate that sit out overnight.

          I’ve researched ways to test chocolate for mold at home, and there isn’t a viable way to do it, yet. Give me some time and I’ll solve that too!”

        2. Huh, that is interesting, because I am allergic to mold.

          That would explain quite a bit…

          Thanks!

      2. Yes! I have tested allergic to chocolate – but am also allergic to molds. Like you, I was heavily exposed to mold and became sensitized and observant.

        I find that Lindt 85% and 90% cause me few problems – if I eat small amounts – 1 to 2 squares – and not every day. I store them in the freezer in a freezer bag. An open package stays in the fridge chill drawer, carefully closed.

    3. I’m caffeine sensitive and tend to be careful about chocolate in the PM.

  29. Has anyone tried Crio Bru yet? it’s roasted cacao beans that you grind and step in a french press. I want to try it, maybe mixing some good coffee and the cacao, but I haven’t bought any yet…

  30. I’ll gladly take this advice! Definitely no arm twisting needed. Your recipe for cacao coconut milk sounds divine!

  31. Mm, dark chocolate. You mention homemade hot chocolate (drinking chocolate?) in the article — have you got any recipes for said drink? 😀

    1. I just made this….

      1 can coconut milk
      2 tbsp cocoa powder
      1 1/2 tbsp pure maple syrup
      1/2 of an 1/8 tsp of cayenne
      same amount of tumeric and cardamom
      about a 1/4 tsp cinnamon

      Simmer on the stovetop… it is amazing

  32. sorta piggybacking yesterdays post about coffee pre workout, i’ve also found that having a bit of raw cacao powder with coffee to be a very good pre workout stimulant. i think it has something to do with the increase in production of nitric oxide which induces vasodilation.

    1. espresso + cacao powder + fine ground cinnamon powder for my preworkout stimulant and it works the charm. Careful with the cinnamon powder for obvious reasons!

  33. Anybody have recipes for good hot chocolate with dark chocolate?

  34. Be careful that you don’t eat too much dark chocolate if you get cold sores (herpes simplex 1). Cocoa is high in L-Arginine, which makes the herpes virus thrive.

    1. Largly disproved as a myth, see “Antiviral effect of arginine against herpes simplex virus type 1” International Journal of Molecular Medicine, April 2009 Volume 23 Number 4
      “We investigated the effects of arginine on the multiplication of herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1) and the potential of arginine as an antiherpetic agent. Arginine suppressed the growth of HSV-1 concentration-dependently. Inhibition of HSV-1 by arginine leveled off at 50-60 mM, although the higher concentration was not suitable as an antiviral agent due to cytotoxicity. ‘Time of addition’ experiments revealed that arginine was particularly effective when added within 6 h post-infection (h p.i.), suggesting that the reagent sensitive step is in the early stages of the infection. A one-step growth curve of HSV-1 in the presence of 30 mM arginine revealed that: i) the latent period was significantly extended, ii) the rate of formation of progeny infectious virus decreased and iii) the final yield of progeny virus decreased to 1%. The addition of arginine at 8 h p.i., after the completion of viral DNA replication in the virus multiplication, allowed the normal formation of progeny virus in the subsequent 4 h, confirming that arginine does not directly interfere with the formation of progeny infectious virus. In addition, arginine also inhibits several RNA viruses.” http://goo.gl/YAcUU

      1. HSV 1 & 2 are in a class known as “lipid enveloped virii” which can be destroyed by the monolaurin content in coconut oil. Before, or in addition to, taking Aciclovir or other pharmaceuticals I think I’d seriously consider increasing my dietary intake and topical use of organic coconut oil. It can also be used as a “lubricant” and it’s antiviral, antibacterial, antimicrobial and antifungal properties make it effective in treating candidiasis & yeast infections.

        “Monolaurin is the antiviral, antibacterial, and antiprotozoal monoglyceride used by the human or animal to destroy lipid-coated viruses such as HIV, herpes, cytomegalovirus, influenza (including H1N1 & others), various pathogenic bacteria, including listeria monocytogenes and helicobacter pylori, and protozoa such as giardia lamblia. Some studies have also shown some antimicrobial effects of the free lauric acid.”

  35. My new favorite and EASY primal dessert: Dried figs, dipped in some melted dark chocolate and sprinkled with sea salt.

    1. Wow- I remember finding packages of homemade dark chocolate covered figs outside of the train station in Rome in 1989. Me and my friend ate several packages of them during our stay there – they were cheap and relatively healthy. I hadn’t thought of it in years – I am so going to make some as soon as I buy dried figs. Sea salt must send them over the top. Yum!

  36. Dear Mark, I read, or scan most of the blogs you write. I enjoy them and appreciate all the time you take to write them. They are inspiring to give more reason to continue to eat this way, and I love to learn more about it from you.
    And…I am a nurse and it has made it so much easier to just say no, to all the donuts, bagels, cookies and cake items that end up in the kitchen at work, and that is a very good thing.

  37. Just had super dark 87% chocolate for the first time in a long time. Wow it’s MUCH sweeter than I remember it, and boy is it delicious. Just proof that my sugar tolerance went way down, and that’s definitely a good thing.

  38. I like to mix 100% cocoa powder with some coconut milk for dessert – no sweetener required because of the coconut milk! Depending on what texture I feel like, I add a little more or a little less coconut milk. If you lower the coconut milk to cocoa powder ratio, you will get cocoa pudding! Add even less coconut milk and it turns into a mousse-like consistency. I eat it plain, with some vanilla, or with cinnamon and a little chile powder for a Mexican twist. You can also eat it with frozen berries for DOUBLE ANTIOXIDANTS!

    1. I ate this a few times in my first few weeks of going primal, when my energy levels were up and down a bit. It really helped me get through and provided some chocolate ‘comfort’. I used 100% cocoa powder, coconut milk, chopped hazlenuts & vanilla extract.

  39. My husband and I often enjoy the hot chocolate recipe Mark has in his cookbook. However, it calls for Dutch processed chocolate, and in this article he says not to use Dutch processed chocolate. Was anyone else confused by this? I was looking forward to a cup of hot chocolate until I got to the end of the article and decided to rethink that!

  40. Dear Mark,

    Dark chocolate (and some red wine) make me sneeze! Don’t get me wrong, I love both, but could they be an allergy doing some kind of damage? Thoughts?

    Andrew

    1. I have always experienced the same thing! Most of the time if I even have a small taste of dark chocolate I immediately sneeze (though not always, and I wonder if maybe some other ingredient snuck into the chocolate?). But I have 3 squares of 85 percent every night, and if I haven’t had it in a few days I will definitely sneeze, and only every so often if I keep eating it for days. The same goes for red wine.
      I’ve had some trouble losing weight, even as I’ve been very strict on paleo. I only have breakfast, dinner, and the dark chocolate every day, and the only carbs and sugar I eat all day are from vegetable at dinner and the chocolate.
      Recently, I’ve discovered I may be lactose intolerant (or something similar to it) and have eliminated all dairy from my diet. Now, I hope in doing so that may shed off those stubborn pounds, and I should probably stop eating the chocolate for a while to see if that will do anything. I may have an allergy to it, because of the sneezing, but it would be so hard to stop eating it since I’ve already given up so much!

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  41. I’m hearing some bad things about the chocolate trade. I don’t know how much “fair trade” addresses that. Can anyone recommend brand or brands that address the issue seriously?

    Thanks.

    1. Some Fair Trade brands available in the US are: “Divine” (from Ghana, as a previous UK commenter described); Endangered Species (chocolatebar.com); and my personal favorite: Askinosie Chocolate (askinosie.com). Unfortunately, Askinosie Chooclate is also the most expensive. But worth the occasional indulgence. In addition to single origin chocolate bars, they also make a dark chocolate hazelnut butter that is out of this world!

  42. Not sure if it was the brand or something but I tried 80% by itself and it was totally disgusting. Had to throw it out.
    After reading the comments section, I’m going to have to give it another go mixed with something. Hopefully that does the trick.

  43. For the UK folk, try Co-op Fairtrade Ghanaian 85% chocolate. So much better than Green & Blacks and Lindt – and cheaper too. It’s absolutely the best chocolate I’ve tried and I’ve just noticed the label says it’s made by Divine Chocolate. Result!

    Who else notices that normal milk chocolate now tastes like revolting oily yuk in your mouth (even the fancy stuff)? And so horribly sweet too. How did we ever eat it before?

    I have some 71% from the Grenada Chocolate Company and purely in the name of primal science I shall perform a real-time taste test ….

    Hmm – the 71% is very earthy, very natural – quite different from other chocolate. Apparently they do an 82% one – which I’m going to have to source out. Otherwise I’m sticking to the Co-op 85%.

    The things we have to do in the name of science and progress eh?!

  44. Nope. Dark chocolate is a gateway drug for me. Today a square of healthy dark chocolate, tomorrow the whole bar, and after that face-first into a 2-lb box of See’s Candy. Even with all those health benefits, the evil outweighs the good for me. Alas.

  45. So what´s the deal with Lindt? I´m looking for a chocolate for blood pressure lowering purposes and read that Lindt is overly processed. True? I love the 90% bar, but is it doing anything good for me?

  46. I used to eat Green & Black’s 85%, but their quality has declined noticeably over the past few years.

    I’ve tried every 85%+ type of chocolate I can find, and Vivani 85% is far an away the best.

    Also, shredded coconut with raw cacoa nibs is delicious.

    1. Cabury has had a 100% equity in Green & Blacks since 2005 – maybe that’s the problem.

  47. Bacon, coffee and now dark chocolate? AHHHH what else do we need? Where has Primal eating been all my life?

    1. Normally, I would have said – not much! But, I just watched Rick Baylis make marinated, fire pit roasted pork on the Living Well Network:

      “Cochinita pibil. Yucatan’s slow-cooked, banana leaf-wrapped pork specialty that never ceases to inspire Rick, whether he’s made it in his slow-cooker, home oven or restaurant kitchen.”

      “For Season 5 of Mexico–One Plate at a Time, Rick takes the inspiration to its pinnacle: he digs a pit in his urban backyard, lines it with bricks, builds a big fire, then slow-cooks a whole pig the old-fashioned way. Good thing he invited the neighbors for dinner!”

  48. I think it would be beneficial to expand on this topic a bit more, so people understand there are BIG differences between cacao based chocolate and cocoa, not just a spelling error…cocoa ( used commercially, has been alkalized, and when done, loses a lot of its nutritional properties..cacao is a raw product form, and is much healthier and more beneficial… aka all dark chocolates are NOT created equal!

  49. Why, oh why, must this go up right before the beginning of the Lenten season?

    Fine. I’ll eat it, but I won’t *enjoy* it!

  50. So I shouldn’t feel guilty for my 2 squares of 90% Lindt per day?

    I knew there was healthy stuff in chocolate (the darker the better), but not all of the benefits.

    This is great!

  51. Pefect excuse to get stuck into my raw cacao powder and Lindt 85% chocolate! (Sadly I can’t find 90% in Sydney) Thanks Mark, now I don’t feel bad about the 4 squares I ate last night…

  52. I mentioned Askinosie Chocolate in an earlier comment, but forgot to include that one of the many things I like about it (besides the flavor and it being fair trade) is that they do not add soy lecithin or vanilla or other flavorings to the chocolate bars. Just natural cocoa powder (not alkalized or Dutch processed) and sugar. The darkest they make is 77%. It is awesome, but too pricey for me to have on a regular basis.

  53. A delicious recipe for Raw Brownies :
    – 1 cup of walnuts
    ground them into little pieces in a
    foodprocessor
    – 1 cup of dates
    mix them with the walnuts
    – a quarter to a half cup of Cacao
    Powder
    – a pinch of salt
    Mix it all together in the foodprocessor
    and form brownies with it or little balls.
    They are delicious !!!

    “Save the world. It’s the only planet with chocolate.”

  54. I discovered a 100% organic chocolate the other day that has knocked my socks off, so to speak. I had to keep re-reading the ingredients in disbelief that it has no sugar (in any form) in it. Its called Labooko 100% Peru, made by Zotter of Austria. Trust me, its a paleo chocolate lovers dream come true!

  55. I have three lovely (ha!) food allergies – milk, sugar, and chocolate. So, you can imagine what happens when I eat any sort of confectionary chocolate. Good thing that I’m not a chocoholic. I can take it or leave it.

    But, I have discovered that eating cacao based 85% (or more) chocolate – in small amounts – doesn’t set off my allergies too much. I don’t eat it everyday. And, now that I’m eating primal and watching for changes to my health status, I use a square or two to test my allergies/general inflammatory status.

    I have started to notice a gradual but distinct improvement and less of a reaction to eating this form of chocolate. Also, I notice that I enjoy the taste of chocolate more all the time. 🙂

  56. Cabury has had a 100% equity in Green & Blacks since 2005 – maybe that’s the problem.

  57. Thanks to everyone sharing their favorite chocolate brands and recipes! Saving this information.

  58. Phew, another chocolate supporting post to show my husband! I LOVE the Endangered Species 88% – texture, flavour, taste, Mmmm mmmm

  59. To celebrate my birthday this weekend I made Chocolate Molten Lava cakes. They were yummy.

    4 ounces of bittersweet chocolate bar (Dagoba)
    4 Tablespoons coconut oil
    Melt these together gently.
    2 eggs
    1/2 teaspoon vanilla
    1/8 teaspoon sea salt
    2 Tablespoons sugar
    Beat these together with hand mixer for 5 minutes.
    2 teaspoons cacao powder (Dagoba)
    1 teaspoon coconut flour
    Sprinkle these on top, add chocolate mixture and fold together.

    Bake at 375 degrees in 6 ounce ramekins oiled with coconut oil for 11 to 12 minutes. Serve immediately.

  60. I think it would have been great to talk a bit about the phytates contained in dark chocolate

    1. I agree that it would have been nice if some of the negative sides had been mentioned as well. Cocoa powder is said to among the foods with the most phytic acid. Not that a square or two is going to kill you, but still a reason to not go overboard.

    2. Yes, and there seems to be concerns about lead and cadmium contamination of chocolate (manufacturing). I’ve been reading about sources of pollution that are considered to play a role in thyroid disorder. Cadmium is high on the list – some say #1.

  61. Oh man, next your gonna tell me to drink red wine with my dark chocolate.

    Alright, if I hafff ta. 😉

    You absolutely made my day!

  62. Alas! If only I could partake of dar chocolate without suffering a migraine! I, unfortunately, cannot follow this advice without pain and suffering… Just not worth it.

  63. Is there a nutritional difference between cacao and cocoa? I read that cacao is the raw powder from the bean, and cocoa is fermented, processed and may have fewer nutrients.

    I’ve never used cacao- can it be dissolved the same way as cocoa powder? Does it taste different?

  64. After perusing this article, I feel like Homer Simpson when he visited the “Land of Chocolate” during one of his daydreams.

  65. I enjoy eating several whole, peeled, organic cacao beans daily. If I feel stressed, I will eat a few more. They’ve become a bit addictive for me. I also love the Endangered Species 88% chocolate bar. I incorporate it into various grain-free recipes as a healthy, guilt-free dessert. I love to mix coconut oil and cacao powder together with a bit of Stevia powder for some sweetness. A spoonful of that per day is heaven! I would be completely lost without my daily chocolate!!

  66. Dark Chocolate is very high is phytic acid, one of the highest on the list.

    http://chriskresser.com/another-reason-you-shouldnt-go-nuts-on-nuts

    It is also very high in tyramine, histamine, and arginine, which is associated with migraines and skin issues.

    Like coffee, chocolate is a high risk food for mycotoxins, even the
    high quality and expensive brands. This causes headaches and immune
    responses like inflammation.

    It is also highly addictive. And it does contains stimulants which can
    be overdone with those who have stress/adrenal issues.

  67. Step it up! I do no sugar at all so I get raw cacao beans and soak and dry them. Munch em whole. This is deep serious chocolate.

  68. And also – this morning, the man at the health food shop gave me a taste of his home-made cashew butter made with activated cashews and cacao nibs. Delicious!! I’ve got some on order for next week.

  69. At my grocery store I can only find chocolate bars that are 60% thru 85%.

    What percent do you recommend?

    How much should I eat per day?

    thanks!

  70. This is the best dark chocolate article I’ve ever read. I eat a lot of either 97% or 100% chocolate almost every day, I also add raw cacao powder to my morning protein shake. I just love it. Sometimes I make homemade truffles with just mixing coconut butter, raw cacao powder and crushed raw nuts, it tastes so good and I know it’s good for me as well.

  71. Just make sure your chocolate does NOT contain Palm Oil also labeled as Vegetable Oil. You wouldn’t want to contribute to rainforest deforestation and the killing of bengal tigers and baby orangutan just for some chocolate. So choose wisely, Green and Gold does NOT have Palm oil or artificial flavours or preservatives. yum yum

  72. I use dark chocolate to make my own Almond Joy bites. Mix unsweetened coconut with some honey and coconut oil, add a tbsp of coconut flour and roll into balls. Freeze for ten minutes, then press an almond into the ball and roll in melted dark chocolate. I used Endangered Species 80%. Freeze for another ten minutes. Put in a air tight container. You will never feel deprived of candy ever again. It’s better than any of the junk they sell containing sugar. MMMMM. And now we know it’s good for more than making our taste buds happy! Thanks, Mark!

  73. Hot cocoa is THE BEST made with a raw egg, cup of boiling water and 2 tbsp of butter or co. Crack an egg in a blender while you boil the water with the butter or co. Add a heaping tbsp of cocoa powder and your fav. sweetener. Turn blender on and add boiling water. Pour in a cup and enjoy. Its frothy, perfect and better than w. milk.

    W/o the cocoa this concoction can even be used in coffee in place of cream… really!

  74. Even more important than the cocoa content is how the beans are processed. Roasting, fermenting, alkalizing the beans destroy most of the fragile antioxidants. The only way to be sure you are getting the antioxidants and health benefits is to consume a product that has had the amount of antioxidants and the amount of flavonols certified by an independent testing lab. There is a decadent, delicious dark chocolate available to the consumer that certifies the amount of antioxidants right on their package. You can find a great article on the difference between “good” chocolate and “bad” chocolate at cocoa101.com.

  75. EPICatechin as a componet????? Well then It MUST be good!!!,

  76. I get raw 100% cacao nibs in the bulk section of my local co-op grocery. They are awesome on pretty much anything…eggs, ground beef, greens. But yeah, avoid eating cacao too late. Definite stimulant effect.

  77. Thanks Mark for the excellent piece today. I make my own chocolate sauce daily this way: 1.5 Tablespoon virgin coconut oil. Heap on top as much pure cocoa powder as the oil can absorb. It just sinks in and you add more powder if oil appears on the surface. I keep adding till a quarter cm of powder stays on the surface. Lastly add a half teaspoon of manuka honey and stir. That’s it. I especially love it with cold ladyfinger banana which is rather sweet. Top a thick layer on the banana and take a small bite of banana with as much chocolate sauce as my taste buds like it. I have been enjoying this for more than a year. A kilogram of cocoa powder will last me at most 3 weeks.

  78. I love dark chocolates but 99% is honestly, too bitter for my liking. I’ll go for the stuff with some sugar like 72% dark and won’t beat myself up because I don’t each much sugar in general anyway. That is good enough and at least it’s not as sickly sweet as regular milk chocolates.

  79. What about the lead in chocolate? Not to mention the oxalic acid that binds to calcium.

  80. I was just telling hubby he has to eat less of the chocolate as his weight was creeping up again. Oh well will tell him he can have his chocolate again.

    Some of my favorite choc uses:

    accidental mocca mousse from elanaspantry.

    Cocoa with full fat organic milk or almond milk and whipped cream and into the ready made cocoa drop a piece of dark chocolate.

    I did discover that even if a choc bar says 80% + it can contain soy and all sorts of other weird ingredients. I tend to buy mine organic and in health food stores to avoid all the palm/veg/soja stuff that gets puts into the reg. chocolate.

  81. Question: How can you tell about the processing method if it is not indicated? I have been eating Lindt 90%, but there is no indication on whether it is dutch processed or not.

  82. My favorite way to eat chocolate it to melt down some coconut cream concentrate, mix in my raw cocoa powder, add a touch of stevia or honey, let it cool…instant candy bar.

  83. My new favorite is Olive & Sinclair. They are a small artisanal chocolate producer in Nashville. The chocolate is stone-ground in small batches using organic, single origin sourced beans. The stuff is killer! If you’re in the south, you may be able to find their bars at Whole Foods. If not, you can order direct from them at http://www.oliveandsinclair.com.

  84. By coincidence I have taken delivery of 2 kilos of dark chocolate today – 85%. :o)

  85. I mix 1 square of 72% or 85% dark chocolate with a tablespoon or so of almond butter, a dab of coconut oil, and a drop or two of honey. Melt in the microwave, mix up, and just eat it with a spoon or put it on a banana! I used to do it with milk chocolate, peanut butter, butter, and a whole lot more honey – but this is my primal version! It is my favorite after work treat!

  86. I must be the only one. I’ve never been much of a chocolate fan and dark choclate does nothing for me. Actually, it makes me feel thirsty and have dry mouth. Ohwell, I still eat it occasionally for the health benefits.

  87. I like to get my chocolate and coffee in one fell swoop. I found this recipe in a low carb book many years ago:

    8oz good coffee
    2 Tbl heavy cream
    1 tsp cocoa powder
    1 tsp sugar or equivalent (if desired)

    To that, you can also add cinnamon, cardamom, etc. Great on a cold day. Takes care of my hot chocolate fix nicely.

  88. How does bittersweet baking chocolate (no sugar added) stack up?

  89. Oh, sure. Tell us to eat more chocolate right before Lent…

    (I’ll have to wait until Easter, sadly. Not eating chocolate is part of my Lenten discipline this year.)

  90. This post came at the perfect time; the last few visits to Fresh Market have resulted in such inner turmoil at getting that dark chocolate bar (72%)! Good to know it’ll actually do me some good 🙂

  91. I am in heaven…. like someone else said, this is the best diet in the world and the reason I can actually stick to it! I eat a piece of dark chocolate every day; the size of the piece varies but at the end of every day, that is my treat! And definitely greater than 80% cocoa, I find anything less too sweet. It helps mitigate my carb cravings and gives me something to look forward to!

  92. This article inspired me to go out tomorrow and pick up some cacao powder and coconut milk and make some hot chocolate.

    Might even sprinkle some cinnamon on it!

  93. It’s a pretty good source of magnesium…

    I’m one of the biggest addicts in the world (3-4 tablespoons a day of raw cocoa powder)…

    But what about mycotoxins? What about it being a cannabinoid and possibly neurotoxic?

    Why is Sally Fallon of WAPF so against it?

  94. Really? People would complain about eating chocolate?? Good thing my favorite chocolate is DARK CHOCOLATE! I will look forward to my everyday treat 🙂

  95. Why is it we know so much about chocolate but seem to be lost when it comes to fats and carbs? Are scientists really spending more time on determining whether chocolate is good for us?

  96. Re:cocoa
    Twice a day I drink 100% pure cocoa (not dutched) with organic coffee from Papua New Guinea (Mt. Hagen–marketed by a German co. and sold in organic stores-also with beneficial polyphenols)- and 1Tbs. pure unprocessed coconut oil and 1 tbs. coconut sap. In 1 hour my blood pressure is very much lower. Since eating a paleo diet-with some fruit and veg carbs., bone broth, and this drink I became so healthy that my bp meds were reduced to almost nothing and the compounded t3, t4 I take for hypothyroidism had to be greatly lowered because the diet made the meds work much better as well as the thyroid working much better. Thank you hippoocrates (“Let food be thy ,medicine”)

  97. Best dark chocolate I have ever tasted was on my recent trip to the USA- Mast Brothers Chocolate, particularly ‘Brooklyn Blend’ (around 72%). Apart from the incredibly complex depth of flavor, I was impressed by the ingredient list: cocao, cane sugar. I have not seen a chocolate of that quality that involves only TWO ingredients
    Check out their website for their chocolate procuring and making adventures
    http://mastbrothers.com/
    This is one very cool small business.
    I just wish they delivered to Australia!!!!

  98. For a pure, healthy chocolate drink try Crio Bru. Crio Bru is a new, revolutionary, one-of-a-kind product – a chocolate drink that is brewed as one would brew coffee in a coffee maker, french press or other brewing equipment. By using only premium cocoa beans, sun drying, roasting, then milling them into a fine cocoa ground the brewed drink retains all of the original, natural health benefits of the cocoa bean itself.

  99. Thank you for all the great ideas!! After reading here last night I mixed dark cocoa pwd, coconut oil and honey together, made balls and chilled. we ate them with fresh made organic whipped cream.. OMG! hubby and I felt like we were on our honeymoon. so simple. so delicious!

  100. Thanks for the great post Mark. One problem that I find with most chocolate bars (and that has been mentioned in this thread) is that they contain the dreaded soy lecithin.

    As a primal person, I cannot justify putting this substance into my body. What is the best course of action here? Do the health benefits of dark chocolate cancel out the deleterious effects of the SL? I would tend to think not. Does anyone know of a good place to find dark chocolate that does not contain this product?

    1. Keep checking labels – there are a couple of brands out there that don’t have soy lechitin in them.

  101. My mid wife gave me a bar of “stirs the soul” chocolate. 83% cacao 99.7% raw, and organic. I eat a square every few days, sounds like I better up it a bit! I am in oregon and this is a local Portland artisan product so i dont know how avaliable it is in the real world.Thanks Mark for all you do, every time I read the blog I get so excited.

  102. Great post…I like to mix cocoa powder with a banana and it makes a great snack. It is a lot more healthy than I thought.

  103. I’m gearing up to try some dark chocolate covered bacon. Anyone have any success with this? I’m thinking to slow bake some applewood smoked bacon (the stuff with no preservatives), cut it into pieces and then dip the pieces in the melted chocolate. I’ve used Lindt 90% for chocolate projects and think I’ll try it again.

  104. Love doing 100% Dark chocolate melted, Coconut oil, some coconut shaving with a bit of almond butter mixed together….. Tad bit of a treat

  105. I eat cheese only rarely, but when I do, some properly shaved parmigiano reggiano paired with a few pieces of 80%+ dark gives one that great salt + hint of sweet experience. Mmmm. I think I’ll be having some tonight…

  106. Mark,

    I make my own “chocolate” using Nativa Caco powder and coconut oil (virgin, unrefined). No cooking required I just freeze the bon bons for at least 20 minutes. Do you believe you get the same benefits from the powder?

  107. Is eating 1 bar a day (150 g) waaaaaaay too much? I have high metabolism.

  108. I was told many years ago that dark Chocolate is a highly concentrated source of caffeine and would aggravate my tinnitus, any comments on that?

    1. I get tinnitus from eating chocolate. The more I eat, the louder the ringing. In fact, my ears will actually hurt if I eat enough chocolate at one time.

      I say try it and see. The aggravation won’t be permanent. At least, it isn’t for me.

  109. My Trader Joe’s Dark Chocolate Nibs are awesome… followed by Makers Mark whisky.

  110. Here’s a go-to dessert winner:

    Mix a can of coconut milk with some cocoa powder in a pot, slowly heat it up.

    While that’s going on, find a pyrex baking dish or similar, and fill the bottom with some frozen fruit. I just get a bag of frozen mango, or blueberries etc.

    When the mixture is pretty warm, add a packet of gelatin. Once just simmering, pour over the frozen fruit, cover, and stick it in the fridge.

    Couple hours later – amazing treat.

  111. Can’t wait to make the hot coconut milk and cacao drink. Maybe my son will like it as he was addicted to chocolate milk for a while.

  112. I can’t believe how fast I adapted to eating baking chocolate to the point of preferring it.

    The grocery store Ghiradelli is good, but the Schaffen-Berger 99% – the other 1% is vanilla is amazing.

  113. I’m not really into chocolate, but would use it as a supplement more or less. What would be recommended daily dosage for an athlete that works out 5-6 times a week?

  114. Dark chocolate and red wine – – a match made in heaven.

  115. To me, dark chocolate is not worth the trouble. Although it has nutrients, it is extremely palatable/rewarding, making it very easy to overeat. For this, I tend to avoid it.

  116. Do the benefits outweigh the fact that most cocoa contains mercury?

    1. I don’t understand why nobody commented on the high phytate level in cocoa powder. Is it somehow removed in processing?

  117. Commercial processing destroy most of the antioxidants. So it really doesn’t matter what the percentage. You need a chocolate that utilizes cold-press technology. The only way you know you are getting the antioxidants and health benefits you are looking for is to find a product that certifies the amount of antioxidants and flavonoids on the finished product itself. There is a great article on the difference between “good” chocolate and “bad” chocolate at cocoa101.com.

  118. What’s the point of using raw cacao for the drink you recommend at the end, if you’re going to heat it?

  119. I just picked up some 70% Green & Black’s at my local market. They also carry the 85% but the 70% was on sale. Great stuff. I’ve also gotten a cayenne and cherry bar at Whole Foods. Not sure about the sugar content or percent on that one…but Mmmmmm

  120. What about the sugar content in dark chocolate? I know it’s minimal if u have just a square or 2 but I have been told that any sugar- if not in fruit- is bad for us???

  121. I mix Cadbury’s Bourneville cocoa powder with Stevia and yoghurt – yummy!!

  122. I think cacao is tasty but have read about dangerous long term side effects from eating it frequently. These side effects have to do with the adrenal glands, nervous system, and overstimulation of the heart/other organs. Personally, it can give me sharp headaches and insomia or sleep disruption. I don’t plan on repurchasnig it and will stick to plain cocoa.

  123. Not the % is leading for a good chocolate only the amount of flavonoid content. I eat a chocolate that has a minimum content >800 mg flavonols at 10 gram square.

    I eat 10 to 20 gram a day
    and can make 18 to 20 hours a day because i regenerate faster with the best nutrition in this world chocolate !

    have a nice day

    Peter Langelaar
    Groesbeek

  124. Great post. I really appreciated all of your scientific reference and support for all of the claims you were explaining. It is quite a pet peeve of mine when bloggers make a claim about some product but do not reference where they got that information. Without a reference I have to assume something is made up.

  125. I love dark chocolate! I introduced it into my diet recently and it really suppresses your appetite.

  126. I play a game with my Lindt 85% swiss thins where I dip them in my coffee(where there is a little bit of milk and cinnamon) to the point where they’re ABOUT to melt and quickly put them in my mouth.
    They’d better have this in heaven.

  127. Sorry to rain on everyone’s parade here, but has anyone had problems with constipation once they started eating dark chocolate? I’m hoping that the chocolate is not the culprit because I would hate to give up my daily dose and all its benefits!

  128. You need a high antioxidant, high flavonol content chocolate to get the results found in the clinical studies. There is only one manufacturer I know that actually has the amount of antioxidants, as well as the amount of flavonoids, certified by an independent testing lab. They actually have recently been granted the patent and trademark rights to the words “healthy chocolate”. All their products can be researched at cocoa101.com. The 80 to 90 per cent dark chocolate is still candy and utilizes commercial processing methods that destroy most of the antioxidants. If the antioxidants are not certified, it probably has very few – which is why they say you “can’t have too much”. You have to eat so much to get the benefits all the sugar will negate any good.

    1. I love drinking hot chocolate with cinnamon. Hot water + 1 tsp cocoa powder + less than 1/2 tsp cinnamon powder. I mix them with a hand-blender and here is my hot drink! 🙂

  129. I like my 85% cocoa Green Black’s , organic, fair trade and full of antioxidants! I ate 100 grams in a few hours and don’t even feel guilty about it.

    Now I don’t know where do I get 100 % cocoa dark chocolate, anyone?

    1. You can get 100% cacao in the baking section at Kroger or Walmart…either Bakers or Ghirardelli 100% natural cacao. Pure chocolate. I have 1 oz. daily. It’s an acquired taste but no sugar or other additives whatsoever! You can also find pure 100% unsweetened powdered cocoa in this same baking section in the grocery/Walmart for making drinks. Hershey and Ghirardelli make good ones.

  130. Mark, should we avoid soy lecithin in chocolate? I’ve noticed that pretty much all bars have soy in them.

  131. Being vegan I don’t eat or drink dairy products, so that means I wouldn’t have milk chocolate anyway. But when people say to me – so being vegan don’t you miss chocolate? I say, the best chocolate out there has no milk! And I think it’s true – dark chocolate is the best. I think it’s the way chocolate is meant to be enjoyed. Plus it’s a lot better for you as Mark here says. Here in Australia I like to eat Whittaker’s, Haigh’s or Coco-Black’s. All good quality.

  132. Are there any downsides or negative effects of chocolate consumption?

  133. Has anyone ever heard of Crio Bru? It’s just cacao beans and I guess you French press it. My mother in law buys it and loves it. Just wanted to throw that out there, in case there are some who prefer drinking their chocolate 🙂

  134. “One thing I don’t get. The paleo crowd jumps all over the phytate anti-nutrient subject with regards to seeds/grains but cocoa powder is loaded with phytates, right? What gives?” Excellent point. Indeed,I was surprised to read that Kuna Indians consume raw cocoa, without any processing which could deplete phytates. Is this proof that beneficial effects of phytates are more imprtant then their negative effects, e.g. antinutrient properties???

    1. Are the Kuna Indians very healthy and have good teeth? What’s the rest of their diet like?K

  135. What do you all think about Bakers Chocolate? It’s 100% cacao, 0 sugar. I’ve been eating it straight for years.

  136. Just wondering if the benefits described in this article apply in any amount to cocoa powder? I know it’s processed, and I’ve read a bit about Dutch processed vs non Dutch processed cocoas, but my thinking is that even though it’s a powder, it still retains some of the original benefits. I can’t seem to find a consensus on this anywhere. I drink a glass of raw, grass-fed milk from my local farmer every day with a spoonful of unsweetened cocoa and cinnamon mixed in. It’s for the flavor, of course, but it’d be nice to have healthful reasons to back it up 🙂

  137. Dark chocolate and nuts are packed with minerals. Very mineral dense, in other words. Well functioning kidneys take care of excess minerals in the blood. However, people with decreased kidney function should be extra careful with excess mineral intake. Osteopetrosis, is a disease that causes a hardening (swelling) of the bones, due to an excess of minerals in the lood. This disease is not as well known as Osteporosis, which causes bone mass to become porous.

  138. Can I just use cacao powder in my coffee or tea? And if yes, how much of it?

  139. I just love hersheys dark unsweeted choclate, & someone told me use the orginal because dark does’nt have the same benefits well your article was intriguing I guess i can keep tipping that dark Hershey canister!!!!!!!!!!!! THANKS

  140. Regarding “bulletproof cocoa”. When you add powdered cocoa to boiling water you are destroying a good portion of the flavanols in the cocoa.

  141. I buy dark chocolate stuffed with hemp seeds, and sweetened with xylitol only, made by a UK company called Plamil, really nice stuff 🙂

  142. Mark what about phytic acid in Dark chocolate and your thoughts?

  143. I think what you stated about Dutching lightening the colour isn’t actually true. From what I gather, the natural unprocessed cocoa powder is namely lighter than the alkali-processed one.

  144. I certainly enjoyed reading your article.

    In Jamaica we make “chocolate tea” (“chahklit tea” in Jamaican vernacular) with 100% chocolate and coconut milk which I make at home from the dry coconut. You can sweeten to taste with condensed milk or dark sugar. We don’t usually use the white refined sugar (or refined products such as bleached flour, bleached cornmeal etc.), because we prefer healthier, more natural products.

    Many farmers grow cacao beans on the family farms, and it is very easy to get the chocolate balls which are home-made and consumed in the ever popular chocolate tea.

    Here are a couple links (2 videos) for preparing chocolate tea:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N661N5IQ-o4
    http://www.cooklikeajamaican.com/chocolate-tea-jamaican-hot-chocolate
    http://www.eatjamaican.com/recipes/chocolate-recipe.html

    Thanks!

  145. So are you saying it is okay to have a few squares of dark chocolate each day? I made up my own trail mix of sorts with pecans, macadamia nuts, and 72% dark chocolate squares. I have been feeling very guilty about grabbing a closed handful to get me through that time between afternoon and dinner or breakfast and lunch after a work out.

  146. Today my back and shoulder weren’t stiff and I was alot stronger doing my
    workouts. I thought about what I had eaten differently. The only thing i had different was the new special k with the chocolate in it. I think it is dark chocolate.

  147. I belikeve everything typed was very reasonable.But, consider this, what if yoou added a little
    content? I mean, I don’t wish to tell you how to run your website,
    however suppose you added something to maybe get folk’s attention?
    I mean The Halth Benefits of Dark Chocolate | Mark’s Daily Apple is a
    little vanilla. You could look at Yahoo’s home page and see how they create post titles to get people to opern the links.
    Youu might add a video or a related picture or two to get readers excited about what you’ve written.
    In my opinion, it could bring your posts a little livelier.

  148. I’ve never liked chocolate and would turn it down every time until I tried dark chocolate. Then I found some 90% dark chocolate – WOW! That stuff is good and I’m addicted.

  149. Is Choffy a fair trade product? No one seems to be able to answer that important question.

  150. I have read that even high percentage Cocoa is not the key to really healthy chocolate, but rather high flavanol count. In other words, a dark chocolate bar could have a high cocoa percentage but low flavonals due to processing. Even though, for example, Dove Dark Chocolate is not “exotic” or even really high cocoa, I have read that this is the chocolate used in medicinal studies due to its Cocoapro processing that preserves all the healthy flavonals. Question: Which dark chocolate brands do we know have a high flavonal count, not just high cocoa percentage. thank you much.

    1. Any chocolate that is processed with alkali will have much lower levels of flavonols. Dove is one such company that does that but I have also noticed certain bars from Lindt use that process as well. They use alkali to make a smoother chocolate, there was a list on Hershey’s site that showed the level of flavonols between different types of cocoa.

  151. Interesting. I eat my chocolate very similar to that: I add to it pinch of cinnamon, pinch of pepper and a drop of olive oil. Tomorrow morning I’ll be trying for the first time adding a piece of it to my bullet-proof coffee (full egg in it, as usual)!

  152. Its really good for your mood enhance.. Ilike it drink in milk

  153. I eat Pure Paste de cacao by moulin des moines,this guys are amazing,they make the dark chocolate bars only with cacau grains,thats it,they even heat it at low temperatures so that it doesnt loose minerals,.Its 100% biologic raw chocolate but sometimes i go for the grains and eat them with a spoon ahhahaha.
    Im 23 years old college student,athlete,training 4 times a weak,olympic weightlifting,even tho i eat 100grams of raw chocolate,pretty much one entire tablet in one sitting,i know it sounds crazy and my bodyfat is around 12-10 % at 5’10,74 kgs.People say ill get fat,but im not,i’,m getting leaner and i love to eat Cacao raw or in paste,bars 100%.It helps me recovery and its very useful for studying,mixed with some fruit,hazelnuts and some meat,its an amazing meal,snack.

  154. I’m a few years late to this thread, but I’ve been eating primarily G & B’s 85% dark chocolate for a few years now and just about every evening. Recently, I’ve come upon various reports on the “probable” carcinogen acrylamide. Given all the health benefits of dark chocolate, I’m just wondering how exposure to acrylamide factors in.

    I’m so sick and tired of all the diet-related alarmism out there, it’s starting to make sense to become a Breatharian (ok, I can’t even type that with a straight face!).

  155. I came across this article because I was worried about consuming a 2oz 100% Cacao bar per week. The bar is also from organic beans. I was really worried about the fat content which is 33g per 2oz bar. I guess I should not worry? I am so addicting to the bitterness of the chocolate… I usually don’t bite the piece at all and instead just let it melt in my mouth. It is really the BEST and once you get used to it it is so hard to pass a day without it. Please, could anyone let me know if this consumption amount per week is really health for me? Thank you! – Renata

  156. well i don’t like chocolates so much. but after reading your blog, i think i should eat more chocolate 😀 well thank you for this post

  157. Waaoohh!! I will give it a trial and see whether it can substitute my favorite dark chocolate.