dark chocolate squares with cocoa powder

It’s always a neat surprise to learn that a much-loved treat like dark chocolate can do more than satiate our sweet tooth or exist purely for our satisfaction. In the past, we’ve learned that dark chocolate is full of antioxidants and can have positive health benefits for the body. Recently, new research even goes so far as to say that dark chocolate has the capability to not only improve our cognitive health and blood pressure levels, but it can also reduce inflammation in the body as well.

Dark Chocolate Benefits

The fact that dark chocolate is more than a delicious indulgence isn’t particularly surprising, as we’ve all heard that a small piece a day can actually do good for the body. The surprise with dark chocolate often occurs after realizing just how many benefits dark chocolate offers for the body. Some of these benefits include:

  • Protects against diseases like cancer and heart disease
  • Lowers blood pressure levels
  • Promotes good cholesterol
  • Reduces insulin resistance
  • Improves blood circulation and hydration of the skin
  • Boosts mood, memory, and cognitive functioning

Adding to that list is now the benefit of reduced inflammation, as discovered by new research at Loma Linda University in California.

Dark Chocolate Can Reduce Inflammation

In a study led by Lee Berk at Loma Linda University, human subjects were given small, but regular doses of dark chocolate (at least 70% cocoa content) and observed after both short and long periods of time. The result was improved mood, lowered stress levels, and improved immunity.

The fact that dark chocolate can reduce inflammation isn’t brand new information in the sense that scientists have long understood that dark chocolate is rich in flavonoids, which are powerful antioxidants and anti-inflammatory agents. However, the fact that this effect was actually observed in human subjects who consumed doses as small as a regular size candy bar is a promising discovery.

Researchers found that the dark chocolate particularly had the effect of regulating cellular immune response in the body after consumption by the study participants. They’ve also concluded that the higher the concentration of cacao there is, the greater the impact is on both immune response and brain function.

What These Findings Mean for Treating Inflammation

Before you run out and start purchasing dark chocolate to treat your inflammation, it should be known that the study’s author, Lee Berk, has noted that further research needs to be done to solidify evidence of dark chocolate’s effects on inflammation. Specifically, the study needs to be carried out on larger populations.

Dark chocolate’s other health benefits, however, have been well-studied and consuming a square (about 6 grams) of dark chocolate (with at least 70% cocoa content) a day can positively impact your health. Whether dark chocolate can be included as part of a safe diet is not the question, as this has already been confirmed. Instead, researchers will be looking to find how pivotal and influential dark chocolate can be in the diet to effectively calm inflammation in the body.


Dark chocolate (70% cacao) effects human gene expression: Cacao regulates cellular immune response, neural signaling, and sensory perception. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.fasebj.org/doi/10.1096/fasebj.2018.32.1_supplement.755.1
Dark chocolate consumption reduces stress and inflammation. (2018, April 24). Retrieved from https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/04/180424133628.htm
Born and raised in Southern California, Beeta has embraced a healthy lifestyle focused on farm-to-table cooking, natural products, and wellness routines. When she's not writing up recipes or discussing the latest natural living trends, Beeta enjoys spending time trying new restaurants, traveling with family and friends, and relaxing at home with her furry companion.