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The Surprising Benefits of Chocolate

Posted: 09 October 2017

“Oh go on, just one more piece!”

Sound familiar? If so, you’re far from in the minority!

October 9th sees National Chocolate Week kick into action, which is the kind of event we’d be happy to celebrate 365 days a year. But while most look at the sweet stuff as something of a guilty pleasure, the proven health benefits of dark chocolate are both significant and surprising.

So while moderation will always be your best friend when it comes to such things, here’s a quick rundown of a few fabulous excuses to enjoy a guilt-free nibble:

1. Heart Health

First up, several studies have drawn strong links between dark chocolate and heart health. Specifically, dark chocolate can help prevent artery clogging and contribute to better circulation.

2. Lower Stroke Risk

A study carried out in Finland found that those who eat chocolate on a relatively regular (though modest) basis are up to 17% less likely to suffer a stroke than those who abstain.

3. High Mineral Content

If looking to up the essential minerals you take in on a daily basis, dark chocolate could be a tasty way to go. From iron to selenium to zinc to potassium, there’s a ton of the good stuff behind the scenes in every bite!

4. Lower Cholesterol

Studies have also drawn strong links between the consumption of dark chocolate and a notable reduction in ‘bad’ cholesterol levels in the bloodstream. Which in turn means that chocolate could contribute to a lover cardiovascular disease risk.

5. Healthy Skin

Worried a little dark chocolate might give you spots? In reality, it’s actually more likely to benefit your skin than cause you any problems. Dark chocolate is packed with beneficial flavonoids, which can help protect the skin from UV damage.

6. Lose Weight (?)

No, really! It might sound too good to be true, but chocolate really can help you lose weight. An experiment carried out by a neuroscientist found that when you let one piece of dark chocolate melt in your mouth 20 minutes before you eat, you tend to eat less. This is because it fools the brain into thinking you’ve eaten more than you actually have, meaning fewer calories for the same satisfaction!

7. Brain Benefits

Along with wall-to-wall health and beauty benefits, it seems dark chocolate can also be good for the brain. Its anti-inflammatory properties have been linked to reduced memory loss in elderly individuals.

8. It Makes You Feel Great!

Last up, the odd cube of chocolate here and there can be the perfect pick-me-up in just about any situation. The reason being that the phenylethylamine in chocolate prompts the brain to release endorphins – the same chemicals produced in abundance when you’re in love!

If you’d like a little inspiration on how to get creative with chocolate, you’ll love the Chocolate Fondant recipe from our Classic French Desserts class. Or for something a little healthier, our vegan cookery class includes a decadent recipe for Cherry & Almond Brownies! Whichever way you go, you might find your next super-sweet indulgence comes with a little less guilt attached!

Photo credits: Flickr - Scatter Jar; LongitudeLatitude

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