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Heavenly food! Good for you too!

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My favorite treat is chocolate! I am in luck, because nutrition scientists have found that chocolate is very healthy. I can now eat some every day, and not feel guilty. Chocolate is made with cocoa, which is rich in flavonoids, compounds that are packed with health benefits. The more cocoa in the chocolate, the more flavonoids, and the more benefits. The darker the chocolate the better.

So what are these health benefits? Here is a list:

1. Cocoa's flavonoids lower blood pressure and reduce the risk of blood clots by promoting healthy blood vessel functioning.

2. Consumption of chocolate slows down aging. Cocoa contains antioxidants, which help protect the body from free radicals and harmful molecules. Cocoa has twice the antioxidant power as red wine.

3. If you are feeling down, dark chocolate full of cocoa will boost your mood. A compound called phenylethylamine in chocolate is the 'feel-good' chemical that is responsible.

4. Cocoa also contains flavanols, naturally occurring nutrients that improve cerebral blood vessel function. Flavanol-rich cocoa can help boost brain function by increasing blood flow to the brain. This effect might also help to delay the loss of brain function associated with aging.

5. Flavonoids in cocoa increase sugar metabolism in your body and may help you reduce your risk of diabetes.

Of course, there is a negative. Chocolate is high in oil and sugar, thus is loaded with calories. You cannot treat it as a vegetable with no Weight-Watchers' points. You have to be mindful that you don't add on extra calories in your diet, and thus unhealthy extra body weight. A little dark chocolate a day is a healthy dream. Haven's and Len Libby, here I come!

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