This qualifies as the best health news in decades: Chocolate is really, really good for you. The fat in chocolate-cocoa butter-is equal parts monounsaturated (the healthy kind of fat) and a relatively benign type of saturated fat called stearic acid. Unlike most saturated fats, stearic acid doesn’t seem to raise cholesterol, and it may even help lower bad cholesterol.
Cocoa-or cacao-also contains flavonoids-antioxidants typically found in produce that help protect against heart disease. Research suggests that eating small amounts of chocolate can increase the amount of nitric oxide, a substance that helps keep blood vessels relaxed and pumping smoothly, in the bloodstream. That’s not only a great for your heart and for keeping blood pressure down, but it means that you’re getting a steady flow of oxygen and nutrients to your muscles and organs. And that will lead to an increase in energy levels; when people with mild to moderate fatigue got cocoa flavanols, they reported feeling much better,
The best way to get chocolate is by eating it, of course. The only hitch is that you have to eat dark chocolate-at least 60 percent cocoa (the packing will indicate the percentage). Milk chocolate is only about 25 percent cocoa, so it won’t make much of an antioxidant impact. An ounce or two of dark chocolate-a couple of squares from the typical bar-daily is plenty.
Not a dark chocolate fan? Try a daily 500-miligram cocoa-extract supplement.