Studies show that the antioxidants found in cocoa beans—known as flavonols—help lower blood pressure and keep arteries clear; they may also help reduce the risk of diabetes. Here are three other things you may not know about chocolate.
1. It's got good-for-you fat
Cocoa butter (the main source of fat in chocolate) contains oleic acid, the monounsaturated fat in olive oil, and stearic acid, a type of saturated fat that doesn't raise "bad" LDL cholesterol.
2. It helps you eat less
Nestlé researchers found that eating about 1.5 oz. of dark chocolate every day helped women battle stress and anxiety and reduced cortisol levels, which are linked to stress-induced eating. And let's not forget the men! Guys who ate dark chocolate with a 70% cocoa content felt more satisfied and less hungry than those who ate milk chocolate, according to a study at the University of Copenhagen. When offered pizza, the men who had eaten dark chocolate consumed 17% fewer calories.
3. It's better bitter
Natural, unsweetened cocoa powder is sugar-free, low-fat and higher in antioxidants than other types of chocolate—but it also has a bitter flavor. When it's Dutch-processed or alkalized (you'll see these terms on the label), the flavor becomes more mellow. However, processing also significantly reduces the amount of antioxidants. So for the best antioxidant bang, opt for nonalkalized cocoa powder in your cooking and baking.
Related: Your Guide to Healthy Chocolate