More than a useful ingredient in baking chocolaty treats, cocoa powder tops the list of antioxidant-rich foods with nearly three times the antioxidants of green tea and about twice that of red wine. Chocolate's heart-protective benefits come from the high flavonoid content in the cocoa bean, with the main flavonoids being procyanidins and epicatechins. Studies show they can improve heart health by reducing blood pressure and cholesterol levels, and they may even perk up your mood—a finding that's no surprise to any chocolate lover.
Choose It & Use It
When buying cocoa powder, choose the non-Dutch-process variety; the Dutch process, which alkalinizes the cocoa to temper its natural bitterness, destroys some of the flavonoids.