No, your eyes aren't deceiving you, and no, it's not just wishful thinking - chocolate really is good for you! Dark chocolate has a whole host of health benefits and is good for just about every part of your body. If you're looking for an excuse to indulge this Easter then look no further - here are seven health benefits of chocolate.
Chocolate makes you slim
Chocolate may not be an obvious food choice for dieters, but research findings suggest that eating chocolate in moderation could actually keep you slim. The study conducted by the University of California tested the theory that, as chocolate is believed to increase your metabolism, these benefits may cancel out the calories consumed. The results suggested that chocolate may not only be calorie neutral; it can also help you to lose weight. The researchers discovered that adults who consumed chocolate frequently had a lower BMI than those who didn't, despite them often eating more calories and not exercising more.
Chocolate makes you smarter
Got a tough exam coming up? Boost your IQ and indulge your taste buds at the same time by snacking on a few squares of chocolate. Dark chocolate is rich in brain-boosting chemicals, called flavonoids, which can enhance your cognitive skills by inducing the creation of new neurons in the brain and improving their ability to form new memories, as well as improving blood flow to the brain. One study of adult women found that when given flavonoid-rich chocolate drinks, the blood flow to participants' brains increased within two hours and they performed better on a complex mental task.
Chocolate gives you energy
Chocolate not only offers many amazing health benefits, it is also a great pick-me-up snack so can help you stay energised for your workouts. Chocolate is high in energy-boosting chemicals including theobromine (a stimulant found in many popular energy drinks) and caffeine. Furthermore, chocolate is a great source of magnesium and chromium, which both play a role in energy production. Have a few squares of chocolate in the afternoon or before a workout to help stay energised for longer.
Chocolate prevents wrinkles
While skin creams are great for keeping your skin looking more youthful, they can only do so much; to really keep the wrinkles at bay, you need to look to your diet. Antioxidants, found in fruits and vegetables, help to fight the free-radicals that can lead to wrinkles, and luckily there is an even tastier way to get your fill. Research has suggested that, when it comes to fighting free-radicals, chocolate could be even healthier than fruit! When tested and compared to juices from 'superfruits' such as blueberries and pomegranate, dark chocolate was found to be higher in antioxidants.
Chocolate slows down muscle ageing
This may sound too good to be true, but shockingly scientists have discovered that small amounts of dark chocolate can improve your health in a similar way to exercise! Researchers from Wayne State University found that a plant compound (epicatechin) found in chocolate stimulated the same muscle response as vigorous exercise, which could help to slow down muscle ageing. Now, we're not suggesting you should swap your workouts for chocolate, but surely this is a good excuse to treat yourself post-workout with a few squares of your favourite bar!
Chocolate helps you live longer
Jeanne Louise Calment - the oldest verified human being to have ever lived - lived a grand total of 122 years and 164 days, and put her good health down to her regular chocolate consumption. Now researchers have found that there may be some truth in the claims that chocolate can help you to live longer. Cocoa beans are packed with antioxidants which studies have found can help fight disease and cut your risk of heart disease - the biggest killer in the Western world. Indeed, US researchers published in the British Medical Journal believe that chocolate can lower your risk of heart disease by over a third.
Chocolate makes you happy
If you ever find yourself reaching for chocolate to ease a bad mood, it seems you could be onto something. Chocolate is known to be high in mood-boosting chemicals, and findings published in the scientific journal Nutritional Neuroscience have suggested that the food can even help reduce the symptoms of depression. The popular treat is not only high in magnesium, which can aid relaxation, but it contains anandamide, a neurotransmitter which can help to regulate mood, and phenylethylamine, which raises endorphin levels.