10 reasons why chocolate is actually good for you and you should be eating more of it

Harriet Marsden@harriet1marsden
Wednesday 12 October 2016 07:45
Picture: PeopleImages(PeopleImages)

Chocolate gets a bad rep for its sugary deliciousness high calorie content, but many studies suggest an impressive range of health benefits.

Millions chow down on chocolate every day - the average American consumes 4.5kg a year - but naysayers have long been stressing links between chocolate and obesity.

Nevertheless, recently discovered biologically active phenolic compounds (breathe) are helping to break down the stereotypes.

Good quality chocolate (i.e. dark chocolate, or containing at least 70% cocoa) is chockablock... with antioxidants and vitamins.

So chocolate could be doing the most for us - if consumed regularly and in moderation.

Because with great power, comes great responsibility. Excessive chocolate consumption may contribute to obesity. And puking.

Put down that giant box of Quality Street and stop at two or three pieces of quality chocolate per day.

Here are the top 10 health benefits you don't want to miss out on:

1. Mood

Chocolate contains tryptophan, a chemical distributed in the brain.

Tryptophan helps produce serotonin. Serotonin makes you happy.

Playing Elle Woods in ‘Legally Blonde’ was Witherspoon’s breakthrough role in 2001 (Faceb(Legally Blonde (Facebook))

2. Teeth

Cocoa butter contained in chocolate actually covers teeth with a protective film, which can help against plaque and bacteria build up.

Forget whatever your miserable dentist is telling you.

Picture: Eva Katalin Kondoros(Eva Katalin Kondoros)

3. Blood

According to a 2012 review of all the data regarding the health benefits of chocolate, researchers found it can stimulate the lining of arteries to produce more nitric oxide, helping them relax.

In other words, chocolate has vasodilator properties, and aids the flow of blood around your veins. This can actually lower blood pressure.

Have a break. Have a Kit Kat.

4. Skin

Some chocolate, particularly dark chocolate, is packed with anti-oxidants, vitamins, microelements and flavonoids.

These improve blood flow to the skin, increase density and hydration, and help protect against sun damage

As Baz Lurhmann didn't say, 'Everybody's Free (To Wear Sunscreen) (and eat chocolate)'.

Picture: freemixer(freemixer)

5. Sugar

Good chocolate can fulfill your deepest darkest fantasies and sweet cravings, which means you can lay off the junk.

According to neuroscientist Will Clower, one small square of chocolate before a meal triggers the hormones that tell the brain that you're full, helping to prevent overeating and snacking.

6. Brain

According to studies at Harvard Medical School (presumably pretty brainy people), chocolate improves blood flow to parts of the brain, and therefore cognitive function.

The flavonoids, magnesium and a cocoa extract called lavado can help prevent nerve damage and cognitive decline in Alzheimer's patients.

They also improve memory retention in general, particularly for the over-70s. Now if only we could remember to stop at one...

Picture: mediaphotos(mediaphotos)

7. Age

The antioxidants in chocolate actually help to slow the aging process, because they neutralise the free radicals that contribute to rapid ageing.

A Canadian study also found that people who regularly consumed chocolate were around 20 per cent less likely to suffer a stroke, and almost 50 per cent less likely to die if they did have a stroke.

8. Heart

A study published in The Journal of Nutrition suggested that chocolate can reduce low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol levels - i.e. 'bad fats'.

According to another study in The BMJ, chocolate can also reduce the risk of heart disease by one-third.

To summarise: healthy consumption of chocolate can reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.

Unhealthy consumption of chocolate can reduce the pain of heartbreak.

Picture: OJO_Images(OJO_Images)

9. Stress

Cocoa can actually help to reduce stress hormone levels, according to a 2009 study.

Perhaps because you've just had a chocolate bar, which stopped you freaking out for a second.

10. Smile

A study presented at the 2016 Pregnancy Meeting of the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine (Atlanta, Georgia) showed that eating chocolate every day might benefit fetal growth and development.

And a Finnish study has suggested that mothers who consume bitter chocolate during pregnancy have braver, smilier babies. Presumably because only the chocolate is bitter.

Picture: Halfpoint(Halfpoint)

More: Want to lose weight? Try eating chocolate and drinking wine.

More: Is chocolate a superfood? NHS