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Chocolate seems to be everyone’s favorite guilty pleasure, as well as being one of the most frequently craved foods.
Chocolate is often regarded as a luxury, an indulgence, a special treat or reward when you’ve been extra good. In fact, if someone told you that chocolate might actually be good for you, you probably won’t believe them.
After all, isn’t chocolate loaded with calories and sugar? This is true, but like most things, moderation is the key to deriving all the health benefits of chocolate without the less nutritious consequences.
This Might Come As A Bit Of A Surprise
Chocolate, especially dark chocolate, contains many of the same antioxidants that are typically found in fruit and vegetables.
This is because, like many vegetables, chocolate is made from plants.
Even more surprising is that dark chocolate contains a much greater burst of antioxidants than many fruits, even brightly colored ones such as strawberries.
In fact, due to the high flavonoid content, dark chocolate has actually been recommended by experts as a superfood (Superfoods for Dummies, 2009).
Full Of Vitamins
Chocolate is particularly full of vitamins B1, B2, D, and of course, vitamin E, which is essential for healthy skin and cells.
Wait a minute, chocolate is good for the skin? Well, in moderation it certainly can be. It even seems to have anti-wrinkle effects on the skin.
One German research study found that one cup of hot chocolate a day was associated with roughly a 25% reduction in wrinkles. Furthermore, the flavonoids present in chocolate help to protect our skin from the sun.
Have you ever noticed that a lot of beauty products contain cocoa butter? These are usually body creams, face masks and lip balms.
Cocoa butter comes straight from the cocoa bean. These intensive beauty products are an excellent way to utilize the benefits of chocolate for silky smooth, nourished skin.
Ability To Promote Feelings Of Happiness
One of the most striking health benefits of chocolate is its ability to promote feelings of happiness.
Dark chocolate contains an amino acid called tryptophan, which the body uses to promote the release of serotonin in the brain.
Serotonin is one of the primary feel-good chemicals and is strongly associated with happiness. Indeed, anti-depressant drugs work by targeting serotonin receptors to promote the release of this feel-good chemical to improve mood.
It makes sense that chocolate has mood boosting effects; people have always turned to chocolate as a pick me up after a bad day.
For the full effect minus the calories, go for a few squares of dark chocolate instead of a bar of regular milk chocolate.
Successfully Satisfy Chocolate Cravings With Fewer Bites
You might be thinking that you were actually craving regular chocolate and that dark just won’t cut it.
On the contrary, dark chocolate has been found to successfully satisfy chocolate cravings with fewer bites. Actually, some experts believe that eating a little bit of dark chocolate every day reduces the risk of falling prey to a full on chocolate binge.
This is because dark chocolate contains at least 70% cocoa solids, whereas milk chocolate contains only around 30%.
Chocolate also contains energy boosting properties that can pull you out of a slump in the middle of the day.
Of course, the high sugar content has a little bit to do with this, providing a quick burst of energy but chocolate also contains chemicals that stimulate the central nervous system as well as a small amount of caffeine for a more prolonged energy boost.
Again, a few squares of dark chocolate will do the trick just fine and contains less fat than a whole bar of milk chocolate.
Chocolate Effects The Vascular System
Another health benefit of chocolate is effects on the vascular system thanks to the high content of flavonoids.
Research has found that a small amount of dark chocolate every day lowers blood pressure, increases blood pressure function, and reduced the risk of a disease called atherosclerosis in which arteries become thick.
Healthy blood vessels are important in terms of promoting a smooth flow of blood through the body and brain.
We can safely conclude that eating chocolate in moderation lowers the risk of stroke, heart disease, and other vascular problems. Bonus!
So there you have it. Not only is chocolate packed with vitamins and minerals for healthy skin and cell function and anti-aging effects, but it also acts on serotonin receptors the same way as typical antidepressants for powerful mood-boosting effects.
Chocolate provides both quick and sustainable energy boosts and promotes healthy functioning of the vascular system.
What more could we ask for from our favorite guilty pleasure? A square or two of dark chocolate is infinitely better than a bar or two of regular chocolate! Keep this in mind and you’ll be fine!