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Chocolate lovers have a reason to smile. You no longer need to feel guilty about nibbling on chocolate occasionally; in fact, eating a small square of dark chocolate every day can do many wonders for your health. Dark chocolate contains high amounts of fibre, magnesium, iron, manganese and other useful minerals – and that’s just part of the good news. Chocolate is beneficial to your cardiovascular system, brain function and skin health. It also reduces the risk of contracting cancer and improves your mood.
Dark Chocolate Can Lower Blood Pressure and Combat Heart Disease
Dark chocolate is rich in phytochemicals called flavanols which positively influence cardiovascular health. Thanks to its anti-inflammatory properties, dark chocolate reduces the risk of heart disease by lowering blood pressure and reducing the bad kind of cholesterol – LDL cholesterol. Studies have also shown that people who consume dark chocolate are less prone to insulin resistance, a risk factor for diabetes.
As for the fat found in chocolate, this comes from cocoa butter and is made up of oleic acid, stearic and palmitic acid in equal amounts. These are saturated and non-saturated fats which make cocoa butter a good substance.
Eating Chocolate Protects the Skin from Sun-Induced Damage
A study published in the Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology showed that dark chocolate which is rich in flavanols confers protection to our skin against damage by ultraviolet rays. Flavanols can do this thanks to their antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
Dark Chocolate Helps Improve Brain Function
Chocolate contains stimulants like theobromine – a caffeine-like substance – which boosts brain function, helps clear our minds and enhances our mood in the short run. Phenethylamine and anandamide are the other substances found in chocolate that help elevate our mood; the former is in fact credited with helping increase libido, while the latter is a neurochemical that fills us with elation.
Not All Types of Chocolate Are Healthy
Unfortunately, not all types of chocolate are healthy. Commercial chocolate which is highly processed has fewer flavonoids which deprive those who consume it of its many benefits. Commercial chocolate, especially milk chocolate, is also often loaded with other unhealthy substances like fats and sugars.
If you want to get the best out of cocoa, you should take raw, unprocessed cocoa beans, or go for dark chocolate with 70% or higher cocoa content. That said, chocolate should be taken in moderation as it contains a fair amount of calories that can increase your weight.