Chocoholics Rejoice! In the “too good to be true” category, you may have heard already that chocolate isn’t all bad for you. In fact, research has shown the chocolate actually has multiple health benefits (hooray!), including:
- Lower risk of stroke – according to a 2011 Swedish study, women who ate 45 grams of chocolate each week had a 20% lower risk of stroke than those who ate only 9 grams.
- Lower risk of heart disease, reduced blood pressure and decreased LDL “bad” cholesterol – thanks to flavanols and inflammation-fighting properties of chocolate
- Can quiet coughs – theobromine in chocolate reduces activity of the vagus nerve, which is responsible for triggering coughs
- Improves circulation – similar to aspirin, chocolate has anti-clotting, blood thinning properties
- Can protect skin – antioxidants called flavanoids in dark chocolate have shown to offer some protection for ultraviolet damage from the sun
- Strengthens memory – an Italian study shows that chocolate can improve how the body processes glucose, which could help the brain work more efficiently
Plus, eating chocolate can raise levels of serotonin, a mood-enhancing hormone which helps you feel calm, confident and happy. And a Swiss study showed that eating chocolate helped women lower cortisol and other stress hormones.
For the greatest health benefits, choose dark chocolate with 65 percent or more cacao. And, remember here, more is not better. Be sure to eat chocolate in moderation – one serving is typically about one ounce. Too much of this high fat, high sugar treat can lead to weight gain and other associated health issues.