Chocolate - Health Food or Junk Food?

Uncategorized Feb 07, 2023

Valentine's Day is just around the corner, and chocolate (in heart-shaped boxes or otherwise) can be found in every corner of the grocery store. 

So, which is it?  A health food?  Or a junk food?

Largely, it depends on which version of chocolate we're referring to -- KitKat or cacao.

Most of us are familiar with the KitKat of which an astonishing 650 bars are consumed each second globally, according to Nestle.Its ingredient list is a telltale sign of its rank on the nutritional ladder.

  • Milk chocolate (sugar, milk ingredients, cocoa butter, cocoa mass, whey powder, lactose, soya lecithin, polyglycerol polyricinoleate, natural flavour)
  • Wheat flour
  • (More) sugar
  • Modified palm oil
  • Cocoa
  • Sodium bicarbonate
  • Soya lecithin
  • Yeast
  • Natural flavour

As you can see, a "chocolate" bar can consist of more than just chocolate.  And in this case, it is mostly sugar -- 21 grams, in fact.  That's more than 5 teaspoons in a 43 gram serving. That fact alone instantly disqualifies it from the "health food" category.  

What about dark chocolate?  A recent consumers report indicates that 23 of the 28 bars tested contained cadmium and/or lead exceeding California's maximum allowable dose levels.  Included in the list were familiar brands such as Lindt Excellence Dark Chocolate, Lily's Extremely Dark Chocolate, Green&Black's Organic Dark Chocolate, Theo,  Trader Joe's, and others.  Yes, I'm disturbed by this too, but that's the bittersweet truth. 

I prefer to get my chocolate fix and its health benefits  from raw organic cacao.

What is Cacao?

Cacao (pronounced ka-kau), is the seed of the fruit of the Theobrama cacao tree.  Processed at much lower temperatures than cocoa powder, raw cacao powder retains more of its valuable nutrients. 

What are the Benefits?

  • It is a significant source of magnesium, zinc, iron, fiber, and  flavanols, which are antioxidants linked to improved blood vessel function, anti-tumor activity, reduced inflammation, and lower cholesterol. 
  • One study has shown that cacao, due to it's theobromine content, can play a role in preventing glioblastoma (brain tumor).
  • Cacao contains serotonin and tryptophan.  Both of these chemicals have been linked to reduce symptoms of depression.  They also promote  better sleep which is also associated with better mood.

Is Cacao for You?

Despite its many merits, chocolate -- regardless of the form -- may not be for everyone. 

  • The methlyxanthenes it contains have been linked to the development of breast cysts in some people.
  • If you are prone to kidney stones, take note:  While theobromine in cacao  inhibits the crystallization process of uric acid and may be beneficial if you are prone to forming uric acid stones,  cacao is also high in oxalate and could potentially increase risk of forming calcium oxalate kidney stones.

How to Enjoy Cacao

Basically, I use organic raw cacao in any recipe that calls for cocoa.  Let me count the ways...

  • Added to my morning smoothie. (I use BerryRadical. See side bar for more info.)
  • Hot chocolate made with boiling water and non-dairy milk beverage (and maybe a touch of honey and sprinkle of cinnamon to sweeten.)
  • In a Chocolate Mousse, using avocado as a base.
  •  And for special occasions such as Valentine's Day, the best cake ever invented -- Super-Antioxidant Chocolate Beet Cake with Raspberry Cashew Cream Frosting!  Raw, gluten-free, dairy free, refined sugar-free, anti-oxidant rich--and so delicious!  At last a health food with all the naughty pleasure of a junk food. Truly, it doesn't get any better than that.  








Get Marian's 10 BEST Strategies for Optimizing Your IMMUNE HEALTH!

...and other AWESOME subscriber-only wellness content


50% Complete


10 Habits for a Healthy Immune System!