Recently, many health magazines have been touting that chocolate, in contained quantities, can actually be good for you. Or that eating a small dessert (like chocolate) at every meal can help you loose weight, and keep your sugar cravings at bay.
So we decided to do a little digging, and we've put together these 10 reasons why we think chocolate is good for you. Enjoy!
1. Keeps You Slim
People who eat chocolate regularly tend to be thinner, according to a study published in the in the Archives of Internal Medicine. The researchers asked 1,000 people, ‘How many times a week do you consume chocolate?’ They found that people who ate chocolate a few times a week were, on average, slimmer than those who only ate it occasionally.
This definitely makes a case for eating a small amount of chocolate at every meal, to help you keep those late night binges at bay, and keep your regular weight.
2. Decreases Risk of Stroke
A Swedish study found that eating more than 45 grams of chocolate per week—about two bars worth—led to a 20 percent decrease in stroke risk among women. The author of the study, Susanna Larsson, told HealthDay the secret is flavonoids. Chocolate is loaded with 'em, and their antioxidant properties are thought to help prevent strokes.
3. Makes You Live Longer
Jeanne Louise Calment lived to the age of 122—the oldest person on record. She also ate two and a half pounds of dark chocolate per week! Harvard researchers have confirmed that eating chocolate actually adds two years to your life expectancy.
But not just any chocolate! Most of what you buy in the store, especially milk chocolate, is heavily processed, which means that it has lost many of its healthy chemicals. Also, some of that research was paid for by chocolate manufacturers... so take it with a grain of salt.
4. Strengthens Your Brain
Researchers at Johns Hopkins University found that dark chocolate can actually shield your brain cells, protecting them from damage caused by stroke. Epicatechin, another healthy compound found in chocolate, was found to significantly reduce brain damage in mice that suffered strokes. Scientists at California's Salk Institute also found that epicatechin also seemed to improve the mice’s memories.
5. Good For Your Skin
Have you ever heard that chocolate can cause acne? Well, we've got some good news: turns out, that's just a myth! Not only does chocolate not cause breakouts, it’s actually good for your skin! According to scientists, the flavonoids found in dark chocolate improves women's skin condition, and even increases protection from UV rays.
The study, published in the Journal of Nutrition, found that women who consumed high-flavonol cocoa (a.k.a. dark chocolate) over a 12 week period, could spend double the amount of time in front of a UV lamp before their skin reddened –compared with those who had eaten normal chocolate.
6. Improves Blood Flow
A study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association, found that dark chocolate (with 85 percent cocoa) improved blood flow in patients with peripheral artery disease (or PAD). The researchers suspect that the polyphenols contained in dark chocolate reduce oxidative stress and help blood vessels to dilate.
7. Lowers Blood Pressure
Guess what? There's another benefit to opening up those blood vessels: lower blood pressure. Australian researchers found that regularly consuming cocoa lowered both systolic blood pressure (blood exiting the heart) and diastolic blood pressure (blood entering the heart). Yet another testament to the power of dark chocolate!
However, a few participants did get stomach aches – so don't over indulge.
8. Makes You Feel Good
A study in the Journal Of Psychopharmacology found that people who had a 42g dark chocolate drink a day felt more content than people who did not.
“The improvement in mood that people can get from eating chocolate comes from the release of serotonin and endorphins – the feel-good chemicals – in the brain,” explains Junee Sangani, a spokesperson for the British Dietetic Association.
9. Boosts Good Cholesterol
Remember those polyphenols, the ones that help improve blood flow and lower blood pressure? Turns out they have even more benefits: like boosting good cholesterol. According to nutritionist Gaynor Bussell, “Cocoa consists mainly of stearic acid and oleic acid. Stearic acid is a saturated fat, but unlike most saturated fatty acids, it does not raise blood cholesterol levels. Oleic acid, a monounsaturated fat, does not raise cholesterol and may even reduce it.”
10. Makes You Smarter
A study published in the New England Journal Of Medicine found a link between how much chocolate a country consumes and the number of Nobel prize winners in their population. Switzerland ate the most chocolate per capita and had the most Nobel laureates.
Okay, so this is purely hypothetical. But we've already established that chocolate is good for you. And who knows? It might just make you a genius, too.
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