Good news for all you chocolate lovers out there: When eaten in moderation, chocolate may actually be good for you! Though hidden under the guise of an unhealthy, sugary snack, chocolate has so many health benefits it’s almost too sweet to be true. From improving heart health to improving your overall mood, you may want to think twice before refusing your next piece of chocolate.

Because I love top 5 lists, here’s a concise summary of the more gripping effects chocolate has on the body:

1. Chocolate Contains Antioxidants Galore!

One of the greatest things about chocolate is that it’s chock-full of antioxidants, which, if you didn’t know, help protect your body against the skin-damaging effects of free radicals. Because dark chocolate contains a higher level of natural cocoa, it’s by far the most beneficial type of chocolate. Throughout history, the cocoa bean has been cherished for its amazing and unique composition. More recent studies have shown that the various health benefits of cocoa beans are nothing short of amazing. In fact, cocoa beans contain more antioxidants than any other food. Period. To break this down even further I’ll give you a comparison: A serving of blueberries, a widely-known source of antioxidants, contains about 32 antioxidants; cocoa beans contain around 621!

While milk and white chocolate may taste good, the added ingredients that make them sweeter negate the potential health benefits the cocoa bean provides. Every beneficial aspect chocolate has stems from the cocoa bean. Therefore, the darker the chocolate, the healthier it is.

2. Chocolate Lowers Your Risk of Diabetes

Number two on our chocolate-loving list is the correlation between dark chocolate and diabetes. When eaten in moderation, dark chocolate can be a powerful companion in combating diabetes. Sounds crazy, right? Contrary to what you’ve been told, eating dark chocolate has been found to lower one’s risk for diabetes by lowering blood pressure and significantly increasing sensitivity to insulin. When buying chocolate with your heart’s health in mind be sure to buy the kind that is extremely dark, as this means there are less fillers and more cocoa to be had. On its own, cocoa is extremely bitter, so it’s up to you to find some common ground between balancing sweetness and bitterness. It’s a give-and-take relationship, but over time your taste buds may become more accustomed to darker chocolate.

3. Chocolate Helps Your Heart

Another surprising benefit of eating dark chocolate is that it can actually improve your heart’s health. Eating dark chocolate regularly has been shown to help lower blood pressure, as cocoa contains compounds known as flavonoids, which are widely known to help stabilize blood pressure by aiding in the formation of nitric oxide. Not only that, chocolate can also help lower your cholesterol level too! Because dark chocolate is so jam-packed with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, it actually plays a vital role in keeping you healthy. By regularly consuming dark chocolate, you’re not only helping your heart, you’re helping your waistband.

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4. Chocolate Protects Your Skin and Smile

Because of the enormous presence of flavonoids in dark chocolate, eating it has been known to help protect your skin from sun damage. Dark chocolate helps encourage blood flow and has been known to slow the aging process. Dark chocolate also contains a mineral known as theobromine, which is wonderful at strengthening tooth enamel. Just think of it, eating sweets to help keep your teeth healthy! In addition, dark chocolate contains an incredible amount of other vitamins and minerals, making it a veritable superfood.

5. Chocolate Gives You Good Vibrations

Last, but certainly not least, chocolate is a natural mood booster. Studies have shown that people who regularly consume dark chocolate are more likely to feel relaxed and happy. Eating chocolate can actually improve overall cognitive function by increasing blood flow to the brain. As well as containing low levels of caffeine, chocolate releases endorphins into the brain—stimulating your mood, waking you up and helping you feel good.
Though there are other more in-depth studies that further highlight the benefits of chocolate, I think these five are enough to convert any non-believer! It is important to note that there is no set amount as to how much chocolate should be consumed each day in order to truly reap the rewards, so be sure to eat it sparingly. And remember: though it boasts a ton of healthy benefits, it’s still chocolate in the end!

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Featured photo credit: aysayako via Tumblr, Chocolate via Shutterstock

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