The article was written by Bill Gottlieb, CHC, former editor in chief for Rodale Books and Prevention magazine in BottomLine Personal in April 2015.

More than 300 scientific studies have established the power of dark chocolate. Dark chocolate is rich in cocoa flavanols, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant compounds such as epicatechin that are nutritional tonic for arteries.

The regular intake of cocoa flavanols and other bioactive compounds in dark chocolate can douse artery-damaging inflammation…decrease the amount of calcified plaque that clogs arteries…reduce high blood pressure, boost good HDL cholesterol and reduce  LDL cholesterol, helping prevent heart attacks, strokes and heart failure, cutting the risk of dying from heart disease in half.

Studies show the ingesting flavanol-rich dark chocolate improves “working memory” (short-term memory used to process information) and attentiveness and decreases mental fatigue.

In a study from Harvard Medical School, one month of consuming dark chocolate improved brain blood flow and mental performance in older people(average age 73), who had poor blood flow to the brain and structural damage to the white matter of the brain, which relays messages between neurons.

Another study, dark chocolate improved the mental functioning of people with mild cognitive impairment( stage of mental decline before dementia).

In a recent study of nearly 8,000 people published in Clinical Nutrition, those who ate one ounce of chocolate 2 to 6 times weekly had a 34% lower risk of being diagnosed with diabetes than people who ate chocolate less than once a month .

One study found that ingesting dark chocolate for 12 weeks protected the skin from sunlight and resulted in 25% less reddening. In a similar study, eating dark chocolate doubled the amount of time it took to start developing a sunburn. Dark chocolate also increased the flow of blood and oxygen to the skin, improving the appearance of the skin.

In a study published in Nutritional Journal. 10 middle-aged people with chronic fatigue syndrome ate high-flavanol dark chocolate for 8 weeks. The participants experienced 35% less fatigue, were less depressed and anxious. However, when they ate a low-flavanol placebo chocolate bar every day for 8 weeks, their fatigue and other symptoms returned.

The author recommends a daily dose of 400 milligrams of cocoa flavanols, the amount used in many of the studies that show a therapeutic effect. Higher doses did not produce better results.

The healthiest way to get those flavanols is with unsweetened cocoa power that delivers all the flavanols of dark chocolate without burdening your
daily diet with extra calories and sugar.

Do not use “Dutch” cocoa power. which is treated with an alkalizing agent for a richer color and milder taste, stripping cocoa of 98% of its epicatechin.

Dark chocolate bars don’t reliably deliver the therapeutic dose of flavanols. If you prefer to eat dark chocolate, look for a bar with 70% or more cocoa and consume about one ounce (28 grams) per day