Healthy chocolate..? What decisions will you be making this Easter?

Chocolate is the ultimate comfort food, for many a stand-by in times of stress, a reliable source of consolation when life has let us down.. a mood-enhancer… romance-inducer in more positive circumstances. But what about the health claims…?

Given self control, it may not all be bad news! If you have the self-restraint to chose the darkest, min 70% cocoa option, there are a host of medically proven ways in which chocolate really is good for us.

Research is continuing all the time and experts have already found that chocolate is good for the heart, circulation and brain and it has been suggested that it may be beneficial in such major heath challenges as autism, obesity and  diabetes….

Here are ten scientifically established health benefits of dark chocolate:

1. It’s good for the heart and circulation

A recent study found that dark chocolate helps restore flexibility to arteries while also preventing white blood cells from sticking to the walls of blood vessels – both common causes of artery clogging.

2. It reduces risk of stroke

Researchers have found that chocolate consumption lowers the risk of suffering a stroke – by a staggering 17 per cent average in the group of men they tested.

3. It’s mineral rich

Dark chocolate is packed with minerals such as potassium, zinc and selenium, and a 100g bar of dark (70 per cent or more) choc provides 67 per cent of the RDA of iron.

4. It reduces cholesterol

Consumption of cocoa has been shown to reduce levels of “bad” cholesterol (LDL) and raise levels of “good” cholesterol, potentially lowering the risk of cardiovascular disease.

5. It’s good for your skin

The flavonols in dark chocolate can help protect the skin against sun damage.

6. It can help you lose weight

It’s claimed a small square of good choc melted on the tongue 20 minutes before a meal triggers the hormones in the brain that say “I’m full”, cutting the amount of food you subsequently consume. Finishing a meal with the same small trigger could reduce subsequent snacking.

7. It’s good for mothers and babies

Chocolate reduces stress in expectant mothers, and the babies of such mothers smiled more often than the offspring of non-chocolate-eating parents.

8. It may prevent diabetes

Dark chocolate, in moderation, might delay or prevent the onset of diabetes.

9. Chocolate is good for the brain

Flavanols are thought to reduce memory loss in older people, and the anti-inflamatory qualities of dark chocolate have been found beneficial in treating brain injuries such as concussion.

10. Chocolate makes you feel better

Chocolate contains phenylethylamine (PEA), which is the same chemical that your brain creates when you feel like you’re falling in love. PEA encourages your brain to release feel-good endorphins.

Happy Easter from all the team at Health :)

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