Lifestyle: Nutrition

Top Reasons to Eat More (Dark) Chocolate

dark chocolate benefitsdark chocolate benefits

Chocoholics everywhere no longer need to feel guilty indulging in their beloved sweet treat every now and then, as studies show that chocolate has many great benefits to health! Specifically, research has found that the true benefits are from eating dark chocolate which contains at least 70 percent cacao, full of antioxidants and flavonoids. Most experts agree that the recommended daily "dose" of dark chocolate is approximately 1-2 ounces (a couple of squares of a standard-size bar).

Health benefits of regular dark chocolate consumption include:

  1. Improved heart health. Research documented in the British Medical Journal suggests that regular chocolate consumption may help reduce the risk of developing heart disease by one-third. A Canadian study of over 44,000 participants found that the group who ate chocolate were 22 percent less likely to suffer a stroke versus the control group who did not.

  2. Lowered stress and boosted mood. Many of us can relate to the endorphin and serotonin rush that occurs when eating dark chocolate. Swiss scientists confirmed the production of these chemicals, and further went on to find that anxious people who ate an ounce and ahalf of dark chocolate every day for two weeks had significantly reduced stress hormone levels.

  3. Better brain power. For a quick boost, drink some dark cocoa. A University of Nottingham researcher found that flavanols in cocoa boosted blood flow to key parts of the brain for 2 to 3 hours, which could improve short-term performance and alertness. Other research from Oxford University studied long-term effects of chocolate consumption in over 2,000 people, and found that those who regularly consumed flavanol-rich chocolate and other foods scored significantly higher on cognitive tests versus those who didn't.

  4. Improved blood flow. Cocoa has been shown to have anti-clotting and blood-thinning properties, which can lead to improved blood flow and circulation.

  5. Lower BMI. Recent research published in the Archives of Internal Medicine studied approximately 1,000 participants between the ages of 20 to 85, and found that those who consumed chocolate more often had a lower BMI than those who consumed it less. On average, participants ate chocolate two times per week and exercised 3.6 times per week. Other research from the University of Copenhagen suggests an additional finding that may help support the lower BMI theory. Dark chocolate is more filling than milk chocolate, offering more satiety and therefore might lessen cravings for sweet, salty and fatty foods.

So go ahead and get that bar of dark chocolate, but remember—moderation is still the key to avoid excess calories and fat. Enjoy a square or two today!

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