If you’re an avid reader of Eat This, Not That! you probably know how much we rave about the benefits of dark chocolate. Now, at last: The official ETNT-approved guide to which dark chocolates will most effectively play a role in helping your health and which will just be something that makes you fatter.
Chocolate isn’t just good for curbing your sugar cravings. Chocolate—dark chocolate, that is—is rich in nutrients like healthy fats, iron, magnesium, and a particular group of free-radical-fighting antioxidants known as flavanols. These compounds work with the caffeine found in cocoa solids to boost blood flow to the brain and enhance cognitive function. Talk about brain food. Additionally, because chocolate is made from fermented cocoa beans, it’s a great source of probiotics and prebiotics, the tag-team of fuel and bacteria that work together to restore balance to a gut damaged by years of high-sugar, high-fat diets.
Don’t just take our word for it. According to studies published in the journals Age and the British Journal of Nutrition, chocolate has been found to help lower blood pressure, improve your cholesterol profile, and lower your risk of heart attack by up to 31 percent. The one caveat? Only certain bars of chocolate can help reduce belly fat and improve your heart health.
“Research is still ongoing about the effects of dark chocolate on the heart and how it affects overall health, but there is evidence to show that because of its antioxidants, it can be part of a healthy diet,” Nieca Goldberg, MD, cardiologist, Director of the Joan H. Tisch Center for Women’s Health at NYU Langone Medical Center, tells Eat This, Not That!. “I tell my patients about an ounce a day can help with their overall health, as part of a well-balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, especially if it replaces more indulgent cravings. However, people should remember that more isn’t better, and to make sure they watch portion sizes.”
To help you bypass the overly-process chocolate bars that are devoid of nutrients, the team of editors of Eat This, Not That! have identified the best chocolates for your belly, your heart, and your taste buds. Make sure your bar has at least 70% cacao (the flavonol-rich cocoa bean) and try one of these delicious options. Meanwhile, keep your blood pressure low—and your tummy slim—using any of these 50 Best-Ever Tips for Weight Loss!