Chocoholics, eat (and drink) to your health.
It’s true: rich, velvety smooth dark chocolate is actually good for you. If enjoyed in moderation and in its own semi-natural state (sorry yummy caramel and crunchy pretzels), it can provide numerous health benefits. Sure, it may not be as sweet as creamy milk chocolate, but it’s not loaded with other fats and sugars.
Think it’s too good to be true? We beg to differ, which is why we asked several experts to weigh in on why we should love the not-so-sweet stuff. Be mindful of the calorie count, aim for the highest quality, and most importantly, enjoy every single, luscious bite:
IT’S A MOOD BOOSTER
Feeling blue? Enjoy a healthier take of this beloved treat to melt away stress, which is something everyone should smile about. A 2013 study published by the Journal of Psychopharmacology reveals that those who drank a “polyphenol-rich chocolate drink” or 1.5 ounces of dark chocolate, felt calmer and more serene than those who didn’t.
IT GIVES YOUR HEART SOME LOVE
“A 2010 study demonstrated that women who ate 1-2 servings of chocolate in a week had a significantly lower risk of developing heart failure by 32 percent,” explains Dr. Laxmi Mehta, cardiologist at the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center. However, do note that too much of a good thing won’t work wonders. “The study also shows that those who ate it daily didn’t appear to benefit,” Mehta points out. It’s recommended to savor a small amount of high-quality dark chocolate up to three times a month to help ward off heart failure and prevent consuming excess calories.
IT HELPS YOU LOSE WEIGHT
Can eating dark chocolate actually help you shed those pesky pounds? According to some experts, the answer is a delightful yes. A small amount of dark chocolate every now and then can slow down digestion so you feel fuller longer and eat less at your next meal. It also helps control cravings. However, the trick is not to overdo it. One dietitian suggests two large tasting squares of 70 percent cacao or greater. Of course, this also means you’ll need to cut down on your other guilty pleasures you may be snacking on throughout the day, but who’s complaining?
IT ENHANCES CONCENTRATION
Need to perk up in the morning? Consider giving that cup of coffee a break for feel-good dark cocoa. Dark chocolate boosts serotonin and endorphin levels, which are associated with greater concentration . It’s also a source of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals, such as potassium, copper, and magnesium, which can work with a healthy diet to control blood pressure.
IT MAY IMPROVE BRAIN FUNCTION
Cozying up with a mug of hot cocoa on a wintry night can be the best thing ever, but now it can also help you look forward to getting older. A 2013 study states that chocolate may help improve brain health and thinking skills in the elderly. Researchers discovered that those who drank two cups of cocoa every day for a month had improved blood flow to the brain, performing better on memory tests. While more studies are needed to better understand the role dark chocolate versus regular chocolate plays in improved brain function, dietitians prefer dark chocolate as it provides more overall benefits than typical fatty bars. And you can never start too early.
So, get out there and cozy on up with some Hot Cocoa or a yummy dark chocolate bar and enjoy!