No need to worry if you can’t get enough of this divine goody. Your guilty pleasure may actually be making you smarter and happier. The reason? Cocoa in chocolate is brimming with plant-based antioxidants called flavonols and stimulating methylxanthines like theobromine and caffeine. Together these nutrients appear to lessen depression and anxiety, as well as induce a sense of calm. Yes, those waves of well-being you feel after nibbling the sweet stuff are real.
Flavonols also boost blood flow to the brain, stimulating the growth of new neurons, as well as improving their function and protecting them from free radical damage. To get the most brain bang for your buck — and avoid weight gain — eat moderate amounts of dark chocolate with at least 70 percent cocoa.