If you love to indulge in a piece of delicious dark chocolate, you're in luck. It turns out that this sweet treat isn't just good, it can be good for you, too.
Take a look at this list of seven ways that a dark chocolate bar can actually benefit your health!
It Raises Serotonin Levels
Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that can help stimulate feelings of relaxation and well-being.
Eating dark chocolate releases serotonin, as well as several other neurotransmitters, which is why your mood lifts when you eat a piece of chocolate -- or even just think about consuming chocolate!
It Contains Loads of Antioxidants
The polyphenols, flavanols, and catechins found in dark chocolate serve as antioxidants, which can delay or even halt damage to our body's cells. In fact, some studies have found that chocolate has higher antioxidant levels than even blueberries.
It Benefits Brain Power
Flavanols, one of the compounds in chocolate, can boost your brain power temporarily.
They work by dilating the blood vessels so that more blood and oxygen can reach the brain. This helps you feel more alert and less fatigued, so have a dark chocolate bar before that big meeting or test.
It Improves Your Eyesight
That same increase in blood and oxygen to the brain can also boost your eyesight, according to research published in Physiology & Behavior. Participants in a University of Reading study saw a 17% increase in their vision in low-contrast situations after eating dark chocolate.
It Lowers Blood Pressure
The polyphenols in chocolate can improve blood flow and lower blood pressure, particularly in people with hypertension. A study out of Harvard University analyzed the effects of dark chocolate -- that containing between 50 - 70% cocoa -- and found that it lowered blood pressure in all participants.
It Can Boost Good Cholesterol
The Harvard researchers also found evidence for dark chocolate's ability to slightly lower LDL (bad cholesterol) and to significantly raise HDL (good cholesterol).
It Lowers BMI
A study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine discovered a link between chocolate consumption and lowered Body Mass Index (BMI) -- a calculation of weight relative to height. After controlling for other factors such as diet and exercise, the researchers found that among 1,000 Californians, those who consumed chocolate more frequently had lower BMI scores than the less-frequent chocolate consumers.
Everything In Moderation
It's important to realize that these health benefits are associated with dark chocolate only. Sometimes called bittersweet or semisweet, dark chocolate contains anywhere between 50 - 90% cocoa solids.
If you're more accustomed to eating milk chocolate, you may find dark chocolate bitter. If you're new to eating dark chocolate, start with a dark chocolate bar that has a lower percentage of cocoa, and work your way up.
You'll soon find that you have acquired a taste for this delicious treat, which makes a great afternoon pick-me-up or after-dinner indulgence.
Just don't overdo it; this is still chocolate, after all! However, when added to a well-balanced diet, dark chocolate can provide a myriad of health benefits.
So indulge a little!
For more delicious chocolate tips and treats, don't forget to bookmark our blog and browse our collection of signature chocolate goodies.
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