Chocolate is a delicious sweet treat, which may also lower your risk for certain health conditions, including high blood pressure and blood clots, and may have a beneficial effect on cholesterol and improve your mood. Unlike some candies, chocolate also provides some nutritional benefits, as it contains magnesium, calcium, a type of antioxidants called flavonoids and potassium.
Potassium is essential for proper cell function, muscle contraction, digestion of food and transmission of nerve impulses. Potassium may also help to prevent or treat health conditions, including high blood pressure, kidney stones, osteoporosis and stroke, although evidence for the benefit of potassium for these conditions is still preliminary and conflicting.
Potassium in Chocolate
Chocolate is actually a good source of potassium, with 1.5 oz. to 2 oz. of chocolate containing more than 200 mg of potassium. This means that people on a low-potassium diet need to avoid consuming chocolate. White chocolate, which isn't a true chocolate, doesn't contain as much potassium as milk or dark chocolate.
Chocolate and Blood Pressure
Consuming a small amount of dark chocolate containing just 30 calories each day can lower your blood pressure levels, according to a study from researchers at the Medical College of the University of Cologne, Germany, published in 2007 in "The Journal of the American Medical Association." However, an earlier study published in the same journal in 2003 indicates that this decrease in blood pressure is more likely to be from the flavonoid content of dark chocolate rather than the potassium content.
Although chocolate may have some health benefits, consume it only in moderation. It is high in both fat and calories, and contains caffeine. If you suffer from migraine headaches or calcium oxalate kidney stones, you may want to avoid consuming large amounts of chocolate since it could increase your risk for these conditions.
- University of Michigan Integrative Medicine: Dark Chocolate
- University of Pittsburgh Medical Center: Potassium Content of Foods
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Potassium
- Linus Pauling Institute; Potassium; Jane Higdon, Ph.D., et al.; December 2010
- "JAMA"; Chocolate and Blood Pressure in Elderly Individuals...; Dirk Taubert, et al.; 2003
- "JAMA"; Effects of Low Habitual Cocoa Intake on Blood Pressure...; Dirk Taubert, et al.; 2007