The elixir of the Mayans has had its fair share of controversies since science started looking at it. Accused of causing acne outbreaks, migraines, heartburn, insomnia, obesity and high cholesterol, chocolate is the love affair we are ashamed to indulge in.


The modern chocolate bar bears little resemblance to the bitter spicy drinks of pre-Columbian Mesoamerica. The added sugar and milk may take away from the overall nutritional quality of chocolate, but there’s little doubt that chocolate is definitely good for you. Studies show that chocolate might fight, not cause, acne by improving the skin’s hydration. And while it’s true that chocolate contains a lot of saturated fat, much of it comes from stearic acid, which doesn’t raise bad LDL cholesterol but can actually lower it. Antioxidant flavanols in chocolate are partly responsible for chocolate’s association with relieving fatigue, improving blood flow, boosting mood and cognition, and reducing the incidence of stroke, cardiovascular disease and some cancers. The verdict is that chocolate is good for you, but not the vending-machine bars. These have their flavanols removed because of their bitter taste and have added sugar and milk solids. One study from the University of Glasgow found that much of the protective effects of chocolate are canceled out when milk is added. To get the maximum health benefits, choose a chocolate that has at least 70% cacoa. Like sunglasses and Batman, the darker the better. But don’t overdo it. Chocolate is a high-fat, calorie-laden food, and overconsumption can lead to weight gain.