10 Health Benefits of Eating Chocolate
Chocolate is one of those superfoods that keeps on giving. Not only is the delicious cocoa plant ensconced in all parts of culinary and romantic culture, but it turns out that eating chocolate can do your body some serious good. Here are just 10 of the ways that chocolate keeps your body healthy.
1. Chocolate decreases stroke risk
A 2011 Swedish study found that people who ate more than 1.6 ounces of chocolate a week had a 20 percent lower risk of stroke than people who treated themselves to fewer than 1/3 ounce of the sweet stuff.
2. Chocolate boosts heart health
Regular chocolate eaters welcome a host of benefits for their hearts, including lower blood pressure, lower "bad" LDL cholesterol and a lower risk of heart disease. One of the reasons dark chocolate is especially heart healthy is its inflammation-fighting properties, which reduce cardiovascular risk.
3. Chocolate fills you up
Because it's rich in fiber, dark chocolate can actually help keep you full, so you'll eat less.
4. Chocolate may fight diabetes
A small Italian study from 2005 found that regularly eating chocolate increases insulin sensitivity. thereby reducing the risk for diabetes.
5. Chocolate protects your skin
Forget what you've heard about chocolate causing breakouts: Dark chocolate is actually good for your skin. The type of antioxidants called flavonoids found in dark chocolate offer some protection from UV damage from the sun. And no, that does not mean you can skip the sunscreen!
6. Chocolate can quiet coughs
Can't stop coughing? An ingredient in chocolate called theobromine seems to reduce activity of the vagus nerve, the part of the brain that triggers hard-to-shake coughs.
7. Chocolate boosts your mood
There's no denying that indulging your sweet tooth every once in a while feels great. Eating dark chocolate helps endorphins bind with opiate receptors to give you almost a runners high. Enjoying food is part of enjoying life.
8. Chocolate improves blood flow
Cocoa has anti-clotting, blood-thinning properties that work in a similar way to aspirin which can improve blood flow and circulation.
9. Chocolate improves vision
Because of chocolate's ability to improve blood flow, in particular to the brain, researchers at the University of Reading hypothesized in a small 2011 study that chocolate may also increase blood flow to the retina, thereby giving vision a boost.
10. Chocolate may make you smarter
That boost of blood flow to the brain created by cocoa's flavanols seems to make people feel more awake and alert, and, in a small British study, perform better on counting tasks.