The health benefits of chocolate

No point feeling guilty about the chocolate you are craving or have already eaten! Did you know that chocolate could actually be good for you? Chocolate – provided you’re eating a high quality dark chocolate with a high (70%+) cocoa content – has a number of scientifically proven health benefits when eaten in moderation. Here are some of them:

1.Dark chocolate is full of minerals – Quality dark chocolate is rich in fiber, iron, magnesium, copper, manganese, zinc, potassium, phosphorus, and selenium. So it’s surprisingly nutritious! Cocoa and dark chocolate also have a healthy fatty acid profile as the fats are mostly saturated and monounsaturated, with small amounts of polyunsaturates. However, because chocolate is calorie rich and contains sugar, it should only be eaten in moderation.

2.Dark chocolate is a great source of antioxidants – When your body’s cells use oxygen, they naturally generate by-products called free radicals which can cause cellular damage. According to the Mayo Clinic, free radicals may play a role in heart disease, cancer and other diseases. Antioxidants are nutrients that prevent or slow this oxidative damage throughout the body, thereby preventing disease. Amazingly, dark chocolate contains more antioxidants than most fruits.

3.Dark chocolate is good for the heart, circulatory and cardiovascular systems – It seems incredible, but studies have shown that chocolate can lower blood pressure, improve blood flow, lower the risk of cardiovascular disease, and improve several risk factors for heart disease, including cholesterol levels. There is even some evidence that dark chocolate may reduce the risk of stroke.

4.Dark chocolate can help protect your skin from sun damage – While it’s no substitute for sunscreen, studies have shown that the flavanols from cocoa can improve blood flow to the skin and protect it against sun-induced damage. In case you were wondering, the scientific jury is still out on whether cocoa can cause or exacerbate acne…

5.Dark chocolate improves brain function and mood – Studies have demonstrated that the flavanols in cocoa increase blood flow to the brain’s cerebral grey matter, boosting memory and cognitive function. Not only will eating quality dark chocolate make you think better, it will make you feel better too. Chocolate contains phenylethylamine (PEA), the same chemical your brain creates when you feel like you’re falling in love. PEA promotes the release of feel-good endorphins in the body.

So do your body and mind a favour this Easter and treat yourself to some high quality dark chocolate. And be sure to look out for fair trade chocolate to make sure that growers and producers are fairly compensated!

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