I don’t know about you, but I love chocolate. I’m certainly not the type who will shy away from indulgence. So, read on: I’m going to let you in on the real reasons we should be including chocolate in our diet.
Dark chocolate—and we’re talking quality stuff here, at least 70 percent cocoa solids—happens to be one of the most anti-inflammatory and antioxidant-rich foods at our disposal. The cocoa bean is a superfood in its own right (full of flavonols), lending itself beautifully to support the benefits of chocolate, which quite literally spread from our memory to our hearts. It doesn’t just have feel-good, taste-good factors, but actual feel-well, live-well ones, too.
1. Chocolate Is Heart Healthy
The benefits of chocolate go way beyond a sense of unconditional love—eating around an ounce a day is actually proven to increase the blood flow to our hearts and break up clumps of white blood cells, which can block arteries. The flavonols found in dark chocolate are thought to promote healthy blood vessel function. Studies have suggested that it can decrease the risk of heart disease, stroke and heart failure, and can also lower bad (LDL) cholesterol.
(Psst: Soy reduces LDL cholesterol, too. Imagine what wonders this Light & Creamy Chocolate Pudding will do for your heart.)
2. Chocolate Might Boost Memory
This delicious bite-size source of superfood puts its anti-inflammatory powers to work right away. Your senses relax with a feeling of euphoria (thank you, endorphins), blood flow increases to our brain and could help boost memory power, reaction times, attention span and problem-solving skills. This doesn’t happen to just the young either…dark chocolate does not take part in age discrimination.
3. Chocolate May Be a Natural Sunscreen
Who doesn’t like to feel the warmth of the sun on their skin? I do. But I always worry about sun damage, even though I layer on SPF 50. But chocolate might help with that. Some studies suggest that its amazing flavonols may help guard the skin against harmful UV rays. Obviously, you still need to use a high factor of sunscreen, but eating dark chocolate also may give you some protection from the inside.
4. Chocolate Might Help Fight Wrinkles
Can it be possible that the simple benefits of chocolate could actually help keep you looking young? Yes, it might help. Eating a small amount of dark chocolate a day may give us enough antioxidants to help fight wrinkles and sun damage.
5. Chocolate Relieves Stress
Let’s face it: Everyone gets stressed. All sorts of maladies can develop in our bodies through stress. It’s comforting to know that I can sit back and relax with a chocolate that will achieve far more than just soothing my woes. After all, researchers have recently found that when a person eats chocolate, their body releases less cortisol and epinephrine during stressful situations.
(Craving chocolate as much as I am right now? Dig into these light chocolate desserts.)
Next time you reach for a bar of chocolate to munch on or cook with, make sure it’s rich in cocoa content. Consider this your secret ingredient to a happy, healthy lifestyle—a bite-size boost at your fingertips.