Just remember, when reading any research about the health benefits of chocolate, they’re talking about chocolate chocolate, so the higher concentration the better. Dark chocolate contains way more cacao than milk chocolate, and white chocolate doesn’t even have any cacao.
Also, processing can destroy the flavonoids, and the more expensive the chocolate the more care was taken to process it so as to preserve the flavonoids. Thus, you’ll get a lot more benefit from an ounce of, say, Sharffen Berger than of Hershey’s Special Dark. Milk chocolate also requires far more processing, so that helps explain why studies always find it does not have the same benefits as dark.
The best chocolate for you is the kind that that has the least add-ins, too. Marshmallows, nougat, caramel and creams only add sugar calories; 200 calories worth of cream-filled bon bons obviously has a lot less chocolate than 200 calories worth of a high-quality bar. Add-ins such as nuts, spices, fruit bits, orange zest or chili are fine, since they add a lot of flavor and antioxidants of their own, without adding empty calories.
Through all of this, it must be said that chocolate is indeed a high-calorie, high-fat food. One ounce of the 82% cacao Sharffen Berger, for instance, has 140 calories and 11 grams of fat. However, of that fat, a third of it is the same heart-healthy monounsaturated fat found in olive oil; another third is a fairly health-neutral fat, and the last third is a heart-unhealthy saturated fat you do need to look out for. You won’t get into too much danger if you can limit yourself to just an ounce, a few times a week…and that is exactly the amount experts say is ideal to reap the benefits. Any more than that will simply add to your overall calorie intake, thereby increasing your weight and adding to your risks of all the diseases chocolate could otherwise help you avoid.