No longer a guilty indulgence at the end of a long and frazzling day, more than just a delicious on the go treat, Chocolate is actively good for you. Scientists have been studying the various nutrients found in chocolate and the results are very much in favour of you tucking in to a great big bar of choccy! And here’s why:
1. Chocolate, as most of you will already know, makes you happy. However, it being so darn tasty has little to do with why. Eating chocolate raises endorphin levels. Endorphins are released when we do things like hug, kiss, give birth and breastfeed – they’re nature’s anti-depressants and chocolate, which contains the responsible natural neuroamine phenylethylamine, helps to give you a temporary boost.
2. Chocolate can help to keep you slim. Surprisingly, a study conducted by researchers from the University of California, San Diego, found that high chocolate consumption was associated with a lower BMI amongst healthy adults. Dark chocolate (70%+), in particular, has been found to reduce snacking habits and it is also believed that chocolate may help to increase your metabolism.
3. Chocolate is good for your heart. Heart Disease is the biggest natural killer of humans in the developed world and chocolate, it has been discovered, can play a role in keeping your heart healthy thanks to powerful antioxidants. It can also help to fight existing disease. According to several large studies, chocolate can cut your risk of developing heart disease, stroke and high bloody pressure by as much as 40%.
4. Chocolate can increase your IQ. Thanks to brain boosting antioxidants, also known as flavonoids, eating (or drinking) chocolate can increase blood flow to key areas of your brain according to a study conducted at the University of Nottingham. The effect is believed to last several hours and helps to form new memories, making chocolate the perfect studying snack for kids!
5. Chocolate holds the key to a long life. Containing the same anti-aging Prophenols as many fruits and veggies, chocolate helps to slow down the aging process. These Prophenols protect against cell damage which happens, gradually, as part of the aging process. Regular chocolate consumption has been found to slow muscle aging and even prevent wrinkles!
And, for those of you who are worrying about overindulging in pregnancy or are holding off on introducing your little ones to chocolate, you may be interested to know that an article in New Scientist magazine reported that scientists in Finland discovered that women who ate chocolate throughout their pregnancies had happier, smilier babies and babies who consumed chocolate themselves (after 6 months) were also found to be happier and more active than their chocolate free friends.
But, before you chuck in the towel and fill up a bottle of chocolate milk, or go on a week-long chocolate binge-a-thon, there are some important things to remember. Most of the benefits reported relate, specifically, to dark chocolate. Milk chocolate contains large amounts of milk and sugar and should be consumed in moderation. Aim to buy ethical chocolate, which helps to prevent deforestation and helps to pay cocoa farmers a fair wage. For more information on ethical chocolate, check out our article about the 6 best fairtrade brands.