5 Ways Chocolate Boosts Your Workouts

Chocoholics, rejoice. You now have permission not only to indulge, but also to be only half joking when you claim the plant-based food is your favorite vegetable.

Plenty of research shows that chocolate is laced with antioxidants that lower blood pressure and cholesterol, reduce inflammation, and boost endurance. And—not that you need more arm-twisting—it can actually be good for your waistline: Researchers at the University of California in San Diego found that people who regularly indulge in chocolate (as many as five servings a week) had a lower body-mass index than those who mostly go without.

That doesn't mean you should plow through an entire Whitman's Sampler in one sitting. This assorted mix lets you reap the benefits without feeling the guilt. ((Are you looking for a salt fix instead? These 10 Healthy Chip Options will satisfy your craving for something savory without derailing your diet.)

More: Is Chocolate a Health Food?

Fiber Without Sugar

Get it from: Cacao nibs

Made from crushed cacao beans, these pleasantly bitter bits are as close to chocolate's natural form as you'll find. One ounce provides 9 grams of heart-healthy fiber.

Get more: Toss into yogurt, oatmeal, and fruit salad, or grind with coffee beans.

Try: Navitas Naturals Cacao Nibs ($6/4 oz.)

Antioxidant Power

Get it from: Cocoa powder

With 16 times more antioxidants than blueberries, it's lower in fat than dark chocolate. Opt for natural or raw over Dutch-processed, which is mostly stripped of antioxidants.

Get more: Blend into oatmeal, smoothies, even chili.

Try: Scharffen Berger Unsweetened Natural Cocoa Powder ($10/6 oz.)

(Plus: Pick the healthiest foods for you on your next grocery run. Learn the Truth About Fraudulent Food Labels).

More: How Chocolate Milk Aids Muscle Recovery

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