Whether it’s a candy jar on a coworker’s desk or your Valentine treated you to a heart-shaped box of confectioners, toss aside any feelings of guilt if you decide to treat yourself. Chocolate — specifically the dark variety with at least 70 percent cocoa content — actually has copious health and beauty benefits.
1. Heart-Healthy: Cocoa contains flavonoids, naturally occurring plant substances that help keep platelets less sticky, decreasing your risk for a heart attack or a clot.
2. Skin-Friendly: Flavonoids also have the antioxidant power to help your skin fight free radicals from the sun while increasing blood flow, resulting in a healthy, glowing complexion.
3. Mood-Enhancing: Because dark chocolate relaxes blood vessels, blood pressure becomes reduced — which also means you become more relaxed. Studies indicate that this sweet treat can increase the production of mood-enhancing neurotransmitters while boosting cognitive performance.
4. Stress-Less: Studies also suggest that dark chocolate can help reduce stress hormones which is good news for your mental health. From a beauty standpoint, less stress means fewer wrinkles since there is less of a collagen breakdown in the skin.
Chocolate Shopping Tips
Ideally, your chocolate or cocoa should be consumed in a raw (cacao) state because it has greater nutritional value — but feel free to play around with the ratio of cacao to sugar until you find a happy medium. Keep in mind that it’s the health-boosting flavanols that make chocolate bitter, so if you’re purchasing a product where the manufacturer removed them, the benefits will be lost, too.
Watch Your Portions
Just remember to keep your portions in check so you don’t add an abundance of fat, sugar, and calories into your diet. Just two-to-three ounces a week is all you need to reap the benefits. Photo Credit: Pixabay