I was surprised to see Charlie Byrne, Associate Publisher of Early to Rise, emerge from the lunch room with a large chocolate bar.

Charlie runs marathons and is in the peak of health. I’d never seen him touch junk food before. Even when someone brings in a box of doughnuts or tempting homemade brownies, he politely says no. So what gives?

I had to ask. “Taking a break from healthy food today, Charlie?”

“Actually, no” he replied. What he told me next warmed my chocolate-loving heart. “I’m eating this chocolate to lower my blood pressure.”

Yes, as ETR’s health experts have said time and again, it’s true – eating chocolate has many health benefits. It can help prevent cancer, lower your risk of heart disease, and improve brain function.

Of course you should always use moderation. And some kinds of chocolate are better than others. For instance, dark chocolate is better for you than milk or white chocolate because it is high in antioxidants. Plus, as Charlie explained, many dark chocolate bars contain very little sugar. And, he told me, “The really dark chocolate bars are so strong, you only need a small bite to get your ‘chocolate fix.’”

A recent article in Consumer Reports can point you to the healthiest chocolate options around. Judging each “contestant” based on flavor and amount of polyphenols (the antioxidant found in dark chocolate), they gave Cacao Reserve Extra Dark with Cacao Nibs (by Hershey) the highest rating, while Lindt’s Excellence Extra Fine Dark (Charlie’s pick) and Chocolove’s Organic Dark also received high marks.

But, according to the article, CocoaVia’s Original, Ghirardelli’s Intense Dark Twilight Delight, and Newman’s Own Organics Sweet Dark chocolate aren’t worth breaking your diet over.

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