Yes & No.
Definitely not an easy answer to this question. Like with all foods, especially many desserts it really does depend on what type of chocolate you are eating and how much you eat & of course if you have a food allergy/intolerance.
A simple answer for you: most would say chocolate high in sugar and with lots of additives (artificial sugars, flavours or stabilisers) or super high in fat it is more likely to be unhealthy. Dark chocolate (70% + in cacao solids) is considered healthy, compared to compound (fake) chocolate or most white chocolate.
Before I get into a lot more detail, which some of you may not want to read - I personally always recommend buying the best quality chocolate you can afford. Higher cacao solids, less ingredients overall and real flavours - so essential oils, freeze dried fruits, nuts etc. They will have more flavour overall and the quality is so great, you enjoy it and need less to have a satisfying dessert experience.
Also when choosing chocolate, read the ingredients list and pay attention to the Nutritional Information Panel (NIP), remembering that the first ingredient listed is highest in quantity within whatever you are eating.
Unless the chocolate is high in natural fruits as an ingredient, sugar is rarely the first ingredient in good quality chocolate. However, sugar is usually the first ingredient in compound / lesser quality chocolates, so try to avoid those.
Remember if the chocolate has nuts, they are carbohydrates which convert to sugars so that will be reflected in the NIP. Also pay attention to how much fat is within the block/chocolate treat, most quality artisan chocolate will have approx 30-35 % fat solids as it relates to the cacao solids - and of course it is needed for the chocolate to set and stay set at room temperature so you can enjoy it.
Some artisan chocolatiers are starting to add ingredients that enhance your health, such as tumeric, which is an anti inflammatory and anti oxidant. Or even seaweed which adds iodine to your diet, which assists with thyroid health.
When I curate a Chai with Chocolates Brew Up box, I have a great range of chocolates that match to the health benefits of the ingredients The Chai Room uses, such as ginger and turmeric. The chai blends also use honey or coconut sugar instead of highly processed sugar, so its an extra healthy win.
For those who want more science based facts, I have skimmed some reputable health sources and summarised info below. Use the embedded links to read more if you want.
Overall, dark chocolate (think 70% cacao solids or higher with very few extra ingredients added by a chocolatier) has some health benefits as it is high in antioxidants and anti-inflammatories. It also has a source of potassium, phosphorus, zinc, chromium, copper and a high level of manganese while usually being low in sodium.
From the Mayo Clinic, cacao (so the base of chocolate) is naturally low in sugar and there is some evidence it may reduce risk factors for heart disease. Also the flavanols in cocoa beans have antioxidant effects that reduce cell damage implicated in heart disease & may also help lower blood pressure and improve vascular function. Dark chocolate with higher % of cacao solids have more flavanols.
From the Better Health Channel, chocolate does contain caffeine, though not to the level as coffee, teas and other foods. As a stimulant, it increases activity in your brain and nervous system. It also increases the circulation of chemicals such as cortisol and adrenaline in the body. In small doses, caffeine can make you feel refreshed and focused. In large doses, caffeine can make you feel anxious and have difficulty sleeping.
Many people say eating chocolate at night affects their sleep. Lots of factors affect sleep, do some reading and monitor your own personal habits to understand what you might need to adjust. Certainly chocolate coated coffee beans, which are a very common treat, are very high in caffeine - be careful how many you eat at once, you may find yourself buzzing around!
I always have an extensive range of gluten free, vegan, low in sugar and vegan friendly chocolate and other treats on hand to select from when curating a tasting box.
If you think a balanced diet is a delicious flavoursome gluten free chocolate in each hand, then shop to your tastebud's delight here. Or if you prefer something deliciously vegan, then shop here to keep your tastebud's happy.
Use the ‘gift’ option at the checkout to provide details of what you can or can’t have and I'll curate your order to suit.