Didn't think your sweet treat could get any sweeter? Think again. A growing body of research on flavonols, a type of antioxidant plentiful in cocoa beans, suggests that this guilty pleasure can do wonders for your overall well-being. The delicious benefits:

Sharper Mind
Harvard researchers found that when older adults with diabetes or hypertension and impaired blood flow to the brain drank two cups of hot cocoa daily for 30 days, 89 percent saw an improvement in blood flow during tests of memory and thinking skills, suggesting that cocoa may also reverse some of the cognitive changes that come with age or vascular disease.

Lower Blood Pressure
A daily dose of dark chocolate may help lower BP. In one small 2014 study, researchers found that when subjects ages 18 to 23 ate about a third of an ounce of dark chocolate (that was more than 75 percent cocoa) daily for a month, they experienced a decrease in blood pressure and arterial stiffness. Why? Chocolate may improve blood flow by relaxing arteries.

Better Stress Control
If you often reach for the sweet stuff when you're under pressure, don't beat yourself up. A recent Swiss study found that dark chocolate may help suppress the production of stress hormones from the adrenal glands in anxiety-inducing situations. Consider this permission to keep a little dark chocolate stashed in your desk drawer.


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