Better than sex? That's up for debate, but dark chocolate can reduce blood pressure, improve bad cholesterol, and help muscle fatigue. And we're not just sweet-talking.
Superfood: Dark ChocolateHigh in antioxidants known as flavonoids, dark chocolate delivers an awesome nutritional wallop. Studies show that modest amounts–no more than 1 to 2 ounces–eaten every day can reduce risk of blood clots, lower blood pressure, increase endurance, improve skin quality, and even sharpen problem-solving skills. But put down that candy bar–notice the emphasis on dark chocolate, which has less sugar and 2 to 3 times more flavonoids than milk chocolate (white chocolate has none at all). And remember, even dark chocolate still contains calories and fat, so please use in moderation.
Outrageous Warm Double-Chocolate PuddingThe Marvin Gaye of desserts, this smooth, sensual treat features a rich chocolate custard topped with chocolate cake. Outrageous? Yes, and not only in flavor: using applesauce in place of butter keeps fat down to about 7 grams per serving.
Chocolate-Hazelnut MousseTraditional mousses rely on hefty doses of egg yolks and whipping cream to achieve a rich, yet airy texture. This sneakily delicious version combines cornstarch-and-egg thickened custard with nonfat whipped topping to get the same effect. Plus, you get a double-dose of flavonoids from cocoa and bittersweet chocolate.
Dark-Chocolate Soufflé CakeGuests might just moan on cue from the deep taste of semisweet chocolate, unsweetened chocolate, and cocoa. In fact, cocoa is one of the best ways to reap benefits from dark chocolate without overdoing the fat: it's what's left of cocoa beans after cocoa butter has been removed.
Bittersweet Chocolate PuddingCocoa-enriched chocolate pudding as part of a healthy skin routine? Yup. German researchers showed that women who consumed high-flavonoid cocoa every day had smoother, moister skin after three months.
Double-Chocolate CupcakesThe darker the chocolate, the more health benefits it contains. For this recipe, look for a good-quality bar that has 70% or greater cocoa content. One bite of this chocolate chunk-studded treat, and you (and your heart) will be glad you did.
Bittersweet Chocolate Mousse à l'OrangeHere's the most important technique for making this mousse successfully: knowing how to keep a secret. Why? Because it uses silken tofu to achieve its smooth texture. So in addition to antioxidants from chocolate and oranges, each serving also offers an ample dose of heart-healthy soy protein.
Espresso Crepes with Ice Cream and Dark Chocolate SauceYou'd think the intoxicating combination of crepes and ice cream drizzled with a sultry chocolate sauce would make you lose your head, but in fact, the opposite may be true. Preliminary research shows that chocolate increases blood flow to the brain, which may improve attention span, memory, and problem-solving skills.
Dark Chocolate BrowniesWith chocolate it's always a balancing act between the pros (antioxidants) and the cons (fat and sugar). So be sure to slice these brownies into 16 squares rather than 9. The smaller pieces will help you control portion size, and clock in with fewer than 200 calories each.