- Cocoa contains flavanols, plant chemicals that act as antioxidants. Antioxidants help protect healthy cells from damage caused by free radicals. Gram for gram, cocoa is one of the highest food sources of antioxidants. Two tablespoons of cocoa powder have more antioxidant activity than 3 cups of green tea or 1 cup of blueberries.
- Flavanols may also help protect the circulatory system. They reduce blood pressure, make blood platelets less likely to clot, and improve blood flow to the heart and brain.
- Eating chocolate in moderation (1 ounce of dark chocolate or raw cacao* 3 or 4 times per week) is associated with better heart health due to reduced blood pressure and better functioning of blood vessels. Research on the link between flavanols in chocolate and preventing cancer is underway, but is still in the early stages.
*Raw beans are called “cacao”. After processing, the nibs and powder are called “cocoa”.