Dark chocolate isn't just delicious, it's also good for you! Chocolate is a guilty pleasure for many, but now, research shows that dark chocolate has nutritive benefits that could pull it out of the shame game and add it to any healthy diet. Cocoa is, after all, made from plants, and actually does contain a number of the health benefits that dark vegetables do. Even though you probably didn't need a reason to indulge in dark chocolate, here are 5 great ones to consider!
1) Antioxidant Benefits
Research conducted by Italy's National Institute for Food and Nutrition Research shows that plain dark chocolate is a potent antioxidant. Antioxidants help defend against cell damage by removing potentially reactive free radicals and preventing their formation; they've also been linked to the prevention of some degenerative diseases such as cancer.
2) Lowers Cholesterol
The consumption of flavonoid rich cocoa powder or dark chocolate can reduce the oxidation of low-density lipids (LDL), otherwise known as "bad" cholesterol, which plays a role in the development of hardened arteries, and encourage increased high-density lipids (HDL), "good" cholesterol linked to healthy cardiovascular activity.
3) Lowers Blood Pressure
According to a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, the consumption of small amounts of dark chocolate on a regular basis reduces blood pressure and improves endothelial function (meaning that chocolate helps reduce turbulence in the flow of blood, allowing it to be pumped further).
4) Improves Blood Flow
The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition published a study stating that "cocoa consumption has an aspirin-like effect on primary hemostatis" (essentially the formation of platelets); this means that chocolate has anti-clotting and blood-thinning properties that can potentially improve blood flow.
5) Mood Booster
Chocolate contains tryptophan, which your body uses to create seratonin, which in addition helping you sleep, also helps with depression. Eating chocolate also stimulates the brain's opioid production (like dopamine), creating a sense of happiness and diminishing pain. Additionally, it's a well known fact that chocolate just tastes good, and this alone is enough to boost your spirits.
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Photo Credits: Bistro Chic, Godiva, Gourmet Food World, Dark Chocolate Health Benefits, The Ecology Lass, Ann Marie Kostyk, Candy Favorites