Nutrition Infographic: Health Benefits of Chocolate By UPMC, February 9, 2015 Cacao. Cocoa. Cocoa bean. It has many names, but they all refer to one thing: chocolate! Although it’s been used and celebrated for centuries, recent studies show there may be more to chocolate than its delicious taste. For all you chocolate-lovers out there, we have some good news! Eating 2-3 oz of 70 percent dark chocolate per week can provide some health benefits. Cocoa beans, used in the production of chocolate bars, are chock full of plant nutrients called flavonoids, which have antioxidant properties. These antioxidants help fight “bad cholesterol” and cell damage from free radicals. The key is moderation, and the benefits only apply to dark chocolate. So, this isn’t an excuse to overindulge on your favorite candy bar. Although both dark chocolate and milk chocolate bars contain cocoa, dark chocolate contains a higher concentration. Many milk chocolate bars contain less cocoa and a higher amount of dairy products and sugars, making them a less nutritious option than their dark chocolate cousins. Ways Chocolate Can Give You an Extra Boost Cacao may improve heart health (reduce blood pressure and reduce risk of heart disease) May increase blood flow to the brain Stimulates endorphin production, which improves your mood May protect skin from UV damage May prevent stroke May lower cholesterol levels Good source of antioxidants Linked to a de-stressing effect Packed with nutrients like iron, magnesium, copper, manganese Mostly healthy fats (saturated and monounsaturated) So, the next time you reach for dessert, remember that a little bit of dark chocolate can help satisfy your sweet tooth and give you a health boost, too.