Forget the apple. If any sinning went on the Garden of Eden, it had to be a big bite of a forbidden chocolate bar. Eating anything that tastes so sinfully good deserves punishment, right?

Not necessarily. Chocoholics can rejoice in a study that showed chocolate is a good source of flavonoids, the same antioxidants found in tea. Antioxidants have been shown to reduce heart disease and possibly cancer risk by protecting against the oxidation of cells by free radicals. Tea drinkers have already have been shown to have lower rates of heart disease.

Dutch doctors studied more than 6,000 people to analyze the antioxidants in the tea and chocolate they drank. They checked for catechins, which are in the flavonoids family. The doctors found that chocolate has four times the amount of antioxidants as tea. Dark chocolate has more catechins than milk chocolate, and both surpassed tea.

Dark chocolate also has less fat than milk chocolate. And cocoa butter, a main ingredient of chocolate, has a special fat called steric acid that doesn’t contribute to cholesterol formation.

“Drinking a cup of tea and eating a chocolate cookie might be not only enjoyable but healthy as well,” the doctors wrote in the British medical journal Lancet.

Researchers have also found that the flavonoids in dark chocolate improve the functioning of cells in the arteries that prevent plaque buildup and stimulate a substance that helps dilate the arteries. In addition, the flavonoids help to drop insulin levles AND limit your cravings for sweet and salty foods!

The news just gets better and better for choco lovers. A new study from researchers at Louisiana State University shows even more advantages of consuming dark chocolate. Good microbes in the gut feast on dark chocolate, growing and fermenting. This process produces anti-inflammatory compounds that lessen the inflammation of cardiovascular tissue. This reduces the long-term risk of stroke,” says John Finley, Ph.D., who led the work.

And finally, a compound in dark chocolate can help fight tooth decay better than fluoride! Theobromine helps suppress the decay-causing effects of bacteria on teeth. And chocolate is less sticky than other sweets that stay on teeth longer.

So eating a small amount of dark chocolate daily may help keep you healthy and your smile brighter!

Many of our health baskets have dark chocolate or chocolate combined with healthy nuts/cranberries/blueberries (season permitting), so check them out!

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