By now we've all heard the good news about dark chocolate: the antioxidants - phenols and flavonoids - found in dark chocolate may offer protection against heart disease. In addition, cocoa butter - a saturated fat - may have a beneficial effect on cholesterol levels. A number of chemically active compounds in dark chocolate can improve mood and pleasure by boosting serotonin and endorphin levels in the brain. And consuming dark chocolate may slow the oxidation of LDL ("bad") cholesterol.
Milk chocolate, however, is not as heart-healthy as dark chocolate: it contains more fat and sugar and less cocoa and antioxidants. White chocolate, which contains no cocoa solids, is generally no more than a mix of fat, milk and sugar with a minimal amount of cocoa butter added.
By eating an ounce of dark chocolate with at least 70 percent pure cocoa a few times a week, you can enjoy its benefits without guilt. When you're indulging, savor the flavor and texture, and try to note the effects it has on your body. Most importantly, enjoy yourself.
Dark chocolate tops my Anti-Inflammatory Food Pyramid as a recommended dessert.