Chocolate for Your Valentine

by karen on February 15, 2019

Happy Valentine’s Day to you! We hope you spread love and joy throughout the day and received a heart full of happiness in return. If your upcoming days will include savoring some recently gifted chocolate (and by all means, they should) you can rest assured that you can do so guilt-free. So, whether you like your chocolate in the milk or dark version, as chips, bars, kisses, truffles, cake, pie or fondue, enjoy, because …

Chocolate Offers a World of Good

Singing the Praises of Dark Chocolate

Dark chocolate has more health benefits than milk chocolate, with white chocolate having the least, but even those may have some health merit we’ll take a look at. But first, let’s look at dark chocolate and cocoa; in a one ounce serving of dark chocolate, containing 170 calories, you’ll find:

  • 2 grams fiber – 8% of the daily recommendation
  • 10% of the RDI (Recommended daily intake) for iron
  • 10% of the RDI for magnesium
  • 15% of the RDI for copper
  • 16% of the RDI for manganese
  • Healthy amounts of potassium, phosphorus, zinc and selenium
  • Small amounts of caffeine and theobromine that can give you a slight lift without overstimulating
  • Antioxidants – compounds like polyphenols, flavanols and catechins that help protect cells from damage. Dark chocolate and cocoa may have more of these protective benefits than fruit – who knew?

  • The nutrients in dark chocolate and cocoa may protect health in a variety of ways:
  • Improved blood flow
  • Lowered blood pressure
  • Improved levels of healthy HDL cholesterol
  • Reduced risk of heart disease, by as much as 57% when eaten most days
  • Protection from the sun
  • Improved brain function
  • Reduced risk of diabetes through improved insulin sensitivity

I bet you’re feeling better already about your Valentine’s chocolate. Read on.

Milk Chocolate is still in the running

If you prefer milk chocolate to dark, you can still benefit. There is not as much fiber in milk chocolate, nor as high levels of the nutrients found in dark chocolate, including the polyphenols and flavanols, but we can still make some justifications for it. Milk chocolate is higher in sugar than dark, so keep that in mind, and perhaps because it is higher sugar and less intensely flavored than dark chocolate, we tend to eat a larger portion, whereas dark chocolate tends to satisfy with a smaller portion. However, there is one perk specific to milk chocolate:

  • May ease coughs. Theobromine may reduce activity in the part of the brain that triggers hard-to-shake coughs.

But what about white chocolate?

There is no cocoa in white chocolate, and cocoa is what gives chocolate all of its health benefits, so technically it isn’t chocolate and doesn’t have the same benefits. It’s made with cocoa butter, or the fat from cocoa beans, and is higher in saturated fat than both milk and dark chocolate. A one ounce serving does have a bit of calcium, equal to what would be found in an ounce and a half of milk. So, it certainly doesn’t end up being a powerhouse food, but if white chocolate is your favorite, enjoy it now and again.


Karen Fisher, MS, RD, LDN, CDE is a dietitian in Reno, Nevada, happily promoting the benefits of healthy foods at her nutrition consulting firm, Nutrition Connection. Find her website at

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