Six surprising benefits of chocolate

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easter eggs, chocolate, health, Serena Reidy, Kettle Mag
Image: Wikimedia Commons
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We’re all guilty of eating a bit too much chocolate around Easter time. Who can resist its smooth, melt-in-your-mouth texture? Well, I’ve got some good news for all you chocoholics out there; chocolate can be healthy. Yes, you read that right. Snacking on a Cadbury’s Dairy Milk bar isn’t actually as bad as you think it is. There are plenty of health benefits of chocolate, especially dark chocolate.

So the next time you’re craving this tasty treat, you don’t have to feel so guilty about it. Here are six reasons why you should be eating chocolate this weekend: 

Chocolate keeps your blood pressure low and can prevent life-threatening illnesses 

Chocolate has got a bit of a bad rep for being high in sugar and causing diabetes and obesity. However, recent research has shown that chocolate can lower your blood pressure due to the flavonoids found in cocoa, which is an important ingredient in chocolate. As a result, people who eat chocolate are less at risk from heart failure and strokes. The British Medical Journal reported that "levels of chocolate consumption seem to be associated with a substantial reduction in the risk of cardiometabolic disorders." 

Chocolate can relieve stress

According to Dr Sunil Kochhar, a scientist at Nestle, "eating a moderate amount of dark chocolate on a daily basis can help to balance the body chemistry of people who are stressed." This is because cocoa contains caffeine, as well as theobromine and phenylethylamine, which act as anti-depressants and boost your mood. Perhaps this is why we crave chocolate during exam time. 

Chocolate is anti-ageing 

Back in 2006, research at The Journal of Nutrition revealed that chocolate can hydrate the skin, keeping you looking young and healthy. The flavonoids in chocolate also protect your skin from harmful UV rays so you’ll be more resistant to sunburn. 

Chocolate makes you more intelligent 

The benefits of flavonoids are endless. Turns out they can boost your brain power too. Flavonoids stimulate blood flow to the brain, improving your concentration and memory. If you find yourself heading to Starbucks for a caffeine boost in the form of coffee before your revision sessions, why not indulge in some chocolate instead? It’s much cheaper and you’ll get all the positive effects of caffeine without feeling jittery. 

Chocolate can keep your hair looking lush

If your hair has a habit of looking dull and lifeless, you’ll find that eating chocolate will make it appear healthy again in no time. Dark chocolate in particular improves blood circulation in the scalp, which in turn prevents hair loss. Chocolate can also make your locks seem more glossy and voluminous. 

Chocolate contains plenty of essential vitamins and minerals

These include magnesium, iron, calcium, fibre, vitamin C and amino acids, which all do wonders for your health. For example, magnesium is vital for energy production and strengthening your bones and teeth, while iron can keep you protected against anaemia. 

While chocolate does have many benefits, it’s important to remember that you should eat it in moderation. Health experts recommend that you stick to 2 or 3 squares of dark chocolate a day; the lighter the bar, the more sugar it contains. 

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