I read somewhere that dark chocolate, which is used in cooking, is good for health. I just want to know if is this right?
According to Wikipedia, the answer is no:
Although considerable research has been conducted to evaluate the potential health benefits of consuming chocolate, there are insufficient studies to confirm any effect and no medical or regulatory authority has approved any health claim.
While dark chocolate (i.e. chocolate rich in cocoa) is generally considered to be healthier than other forms of chocolate, it does not have any provable benefits over eating a varied, well-balanced diet (of which dark chocolate may be a part).
For all such questions, no matter what is the foodstuff in question, the answer cannot be yes or no, good or bad.
The way towards the answer (which will probably never be definite) is more complex and requires integration of several factors: what does this food contain, how much do you eat of that food, what does your diet generally consist of (to understand what you are getting from your food and what might be missing), how does your body process what you eat, and probably other factors.
A frequently quoted adage in that context is "the dose makes the poison", i.e. too much of ANYTHING can be bad for you, and the amount where it is not harmful and perhaps even beneficial should be sought and determined before a foodstuff can be considered "good for health".
Some of the factors I listed above you can determine (and control) directly and some others you cannot:
- What does this food contain - for dark chocolate, you can check it out here. The United States Department of Agriculture website hosts a National Nutrient Database, in which you can search for many types of foodstuffs and see what they contain for different mass/volume units.
- How much do you eat of that food - well, that entirely depends on you. We already know that the dose makes the poison. In most cases it should be safe to start low and go slow (an approach borrowed from medicinal treatment for the elderly). Follow your body's reactions to try and understand if the amounts you eat are good for you.
- What does your diet generally consist of - this is also under your control, although many people do not eat as healthy as they would like. This is important when you want to know if you are regularly getting all the essential nutrients you need from your diet, and what you can add to your nutritional intake from the foodtuff in question (see item 1 above).
For example, dark chocolate contains ample amounts (relatively, of course) of Potassium (715 mg/100 g of dark chocolate with 70-85% cacao solids) and Phosphorus (308 mg/100 g of dark chocolate with 70-85% cacao solids). This may be good for you if you are not getting these minerals from other sources.
However, bear in mind that when you eat 100 grams of dark chocolate you get the "full package", which also contains 23.99 gr total sugars and 42.63 gr total lipids. This should also be taken into account.
Important note: for adjusting your diet to your needs and health, it is best to speak to a professional dietitian.
- How does your body process what you eat - this is something you usually do not know until you actually try new foods, and you have no control over it. But of course, if you are allergic to some foods or if they have bad effects on you (indigestion, heartburn etc.) they would not be beneficial for you and you should probably avoid them.
I believe my answer demonstrates why there is no black and white, good or bad in this kind of questions. The best approach is to be aware of what the food you eat actually contains and consult with healthcare professionals as necessary.