It’s there for us in times of celebration, sadness, stress and romance. Chocolate is our friend and our comfort, whether we enjoy it at Easter, Christmas or just as a treat in front of the TV in the evening. But have we really considered that it might be good for us?
We’re bombarded with information about healthy diets and the dangers of too much sugar, but it’s so easy to ignore when there’s a tempting box of chocolates in front of us. Of course it’s important to enjoy sweet treats in moderation, but there’s a particular type of chocolate that has lots of health benefits – dark chocolate. Preferably the organic, expensive type that has a percentage of at least 70% cocoa.
The Health Benefits of Chocolate
It makes you feel good: Eating chocolate mimics the same feeling as falling in love, as it releases phenylethylamine and endorphins, chemicals that the brain creates naturally.
It’s good for the heart: It may be hard to believe, but dark chocolate can restore flexibility in the arteries and prevent white blood cells from sticking to the walls of blood vessels.
It’s full of minerals: You wouldn’t expect it from the sweet aroma and eye catching packaging, but chocolate actually contains zinc, potassium and selenium.
It can improve brain function: Chocolate contains flavanol that can improve blood flow to the brain. Cocoa contains caffeine, which may explain why it has short-term benefits too.
It could reduce stress: In a study by Swiss scientists, it was found that people suffering from anxiety who ate dark chocolate every day for two weeks experienced reduced stress hormone levels.
Despite the health benefits of dark chocolate, the great taste is the reason why so many of us enjoy our favourite chocolate bar at the end of a busy day. There’s no doubt that chocolate is our go-to in the middle of a break up or a stressful deadline at work, but it’s not just good old chocolate bars, there are so many ways to enjoy chocolate. Cakes with rich chocolate icing, biscuits topped with chocolate, chocolate mousse, melt in the middle puddings, the list is endless. All in moderation, of course!