Cocoa's association with chocolate means that the benefits of eating it are often overlooked, but cocoa is a health powerhouse. Made from the seed of the Theobroma cacao plant, in its rawest form, cocoa contains over 700 compounds. Many of these, like antioxidants, are beneficial to health. Science is still investigating how these compounds affect the body, but most agree that adding cocoa to the diet (without the additives in most milk chocolate) can improve wellness in many ways.


1. Cardiovascular Benefits

Studies show that people who eat more chocolate have a lower risk of heart attack and stroke. This is due to the impact cocoa has on blood vessels. Compounds called polyphenols have an anti-inflammatory effect that helps to dilate the veins and arteries, thin the blood, and improve blood flow. Cocoa also lowers blood pressure, especially among people with hypertension. Another way chocolate protects the heart is by reducing LDL, or bad, cholesterol.

Helps protect the heart ipopba / Getty Images

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