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It's okay - keep chocolate in your diet

healthy chocolate

Chocolate is a not-so-guilty pleasure after all (phew!). Dark chocolate has been scientifically proven to be beneficial to our mind, body, and overall daily attitude. Other than the obvious reason to eat chocolate – its amazing taste – below are 5 additional reasons to not only start, but continue eating it.

1. It's good for your heart. New studies have shown that chocolate connoisseurs have a lower risk of strokes and cardiovascular disease compared to people who didn’t eat chocolate. Why? Chocolate is derived from the cacao bean, and the bioactive plant compounds found in this bean have been proven to help against heart disease. Specifically, cacao is rich in flavonoids, which aid in lowering blood pressure and improving the elasticity of blood vessels. Cacao also has a high concentration of antioxidants, which helps stimulate the production of nitric oxide, helping to keep blood vessels relaxed. Together, these compounds help in maintaining a healthy circulatory system, defending against high blood pressure and diabetes.

2. It's good for the brain. Compounds in dark chocolate boost memory, attention span, reaction time, and problem-solving skills by increasing blood flow to the brain. Follow on effects include improved verbal fluency and lowered overall risk for brain disease. Cacao may even be linked to the possibility of significantly improving cognitive function in elderly people with mental impairment.

3. Chocolate helps curb hunger. Dark chocolate with at least 70% cacao can improve your appetite by negating levels of the hunger hormone. The bitter taste of a small piece of chocolate after dinner will suppress any further appetite by naturally telling our bodies that you are full.

4. Chocolate is good for your skin. Gone are the myths that chocolate causes acne. Scientists have proven that the flavonoids found in dark chocolate help with skin consistency as well as aid in the protection against the sun’s UV rays. So be sure to bring your chocolate next time you hit the beach!

5. It makes you feel better! Dark chocolate boosts the production of ‘feel-good’ chemicals called endorphins. These are the same endorphins that lead to feelings of euphoria that joggers get from a running high, which not only act as a mood-lifter but also minimize levels of both stress and pain. Other natural chemicals released cause alertness, excitement, and a quickening of your heart rate.

Theobroma Cacao, the Latin name for chocolate, means “Food of the Gods” for good reason. So next time you find yourself in a heap of blankets on the couch indulging in a dark chocolate almond bar, just think of all the good you’re doing yourself.

- Written by MiCacao Contributors

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