Benefit for Your Body: It lowers your blood pressure, and it’s full of flavonols, antioxidants that fight the inflammation that can trigger heart problems. Neurological studies also suggest that these same flavonols may ward off depression and age-related declines in brain function. Need more reasons to eat chocolate? One chocolate-loving researcher reports that countries with higher cocoa consumption also had a higher number of Nobel Prize winners.
Planetary Perk: Cacao trees are native to rain forests, where they grow wild under shade canopies that provide homes for migratory songbirds and other diverse wildlife. But increasingly, rain forests are being clear-cut and replaced with huge industrial cacao plantations that don’t cater to birds. As a result, the number of pests increases—along with the use of toxic, synthetic pesticides. Those pesticides endanger tiny little rainforest pollinators called midges, without which the world’s chocolate supply wouldn’t exist, according to the National Wildlife Federation. Opt for shade-grown chocolate to save the midges and possibly your next chocolate bar.
Try This Recipe: Chocolate Chip Cookies.