By Genna Revitz
Raise your hand if you’ve ever felt guilty after indulging in what some would say is woman’s greatest nemesis: chocolate? After obsessing over our exes on Facebook – Have they changed their relationship status? Are they really smiling without us? – it seems like chocolate really is most women’s top “guilty pleasure” (especially during that time of the month).
Well, all that is about to change, ladies, because chocolate is no longer the enemy.
So stop fighting your cravings and salivating over the chocolate bars at the checkout counter of the grocery store and instead start eating them, without regret!
Dark chocolate can make you look younger. Rich in antioxidants that protect all our cells – including our skin cells – from free radical damage, dark chocolate can actually provide anti-aging benefits by protecting our skin from environmental damage (like UV rays) and inflammation.
Dark chocolate lowers blood pressure. While the link between cause and effect is unknown (hey, it could just be that giving yourself a bit of an indulgence merely lowers your stress levels!), the fact remains that studies in both Germany and Australia have found that eating chocolate has noticeable (albeit limited) blood pressure benefits!
Dark chocolate can raise your HDL (good cholesterol). While chocolate isn’t exactly giving Statins (prescription cholesterol drugs) a run for their money, the cocoa butter in chocolate is rich in oleic acid, the same monounsaturated fat in olive oil, which can help raise your good cholesterol.
Dark chocolate prevents heart disease & stroke. You may think that chocolate is a less than healthy indulgence (although we’re hoping to change that here!), but the fact is that studies have consistently found that people who ate more dark chocolate weekly had more than a 30% lower risk of heart disease than those who ate the least amounts of dark chocolate. Similarly, 2 candy bars per week may lower your risk of stroke by up to 20%.
Dark chocolate reduces the risk of cancer. While Hershey’s is unlikely to declare themselves a cancer cure any time soon, preliminary studies in Europe, Asia and North America have found that people who eat more flavonoids (as found in antioxidant-rich chocolate) develop fewer cancers than those who don’t.
Dark chocolate improves vision. Move over, carrots! Research participants who ate dark chocolate prior to taking a vision test performed better than those who didn’t. It’s likely caused by the flavanols in dark chocolate, which improve blood flow, since white chocolate didn’t have the same effect.
Dark chocolate makes you happy. No wonder women suffering heartbreak sit at home with chocolate! And it’s not just because you enjoy the taste (although that may be part of it!). Rather, studies show that chocolate can chemically make you happier because of the fatty acids in dark chocolate which stimulate the parts of your brain associated with pleasure and reward.
If you didn’t already gather, yes, the key here is in dark chocolate, which is rich in naturally occurring and antioxidant-rich flavonoids. Aim for 1 ounce per day of minimally- or un-processed chocolate with as least 65% cacao to keep the antioxidant levels highest and the sugar and unhealthy fats to a minimum.
So ladies, you’ve officially been given a green light! Go ahead and satisfy that craving. You can thank us later, once you’ve reaped the benefits!