Like chocolate, cacao powder contains flavonoids, which are known to help lower blood pressure and improve blood flow to the brain and heart. With fewer than 15 calories per tablespoon and containing almost no fat, cacao provides a strong chocolate flavor without the guilt. “For someone who has a chocolate tooth and is looking for heart or circulation benefits, it’s a good call,” says Dawn Jackson Blatner, a registered dietitian.
But make sure to read the label carefully before buying. “If you ever see the terms Dutch or alkalized cocoa, that means the powder has been processed, and up to 90 percent of the antioxidants are gone. When you’re buying, choose the raw or nonalkalized version, which contains all the phytochemicals and antioxidants,” says Bellatti. Try adding the powder to smoothies for a rich chocolaty taste.
Available at supermarkets and online; try sunfood.com.