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Sweet and creamy-smooth or intensely dark and rich, chocolate is pure sensual pleasure. Its blissful taste inspires feelings of satisfaction and comfort, and scientific research gives us even more reason to be passionate about chocolate: it’s a source of some terrific nutritional benefits when enjoyed as part of a varied, balanced diet.
In addition to being delicious treats, there is growing evidence that real, high-quality chocolate and cocoa contain healthful polyphenols, including the type called flavonoids. Polyphenol compounds (found in red wine, tea, apples, oranges, and various vegetables) act as natural antioxidants in the body, protecting it against disease and damage caused by free radicals.
Most of us think of hot cocoa as a soothing chocolate milk beverage. But cocoa is also the intensely flavored chocolate powder created when almost all cocoa butter has been removed from chocolate liquor. Cocoa contains more than 30 nutritious organic compounds, including:
More good news about chocolate! Research seems to indicate that eating dark chocolate might play a role in heart health, too. While the verdict is still out, eating high-quality chocolate seems to offer useful nutrients that help improve circulation and lower amounts of LDL (“bad”) cholesterol.