The health benefits of chocolate

Chocolate that acts as an antioxidant, chocolate that encourages a healthy heart, chocolate that acts as an anti-depressant. Do you think it sounds too good to be true?

Yes, we all know that chocolate has too much sugar, calories and fat in it to offer any health benefits. But did you know that there is more than one type of chocolate?

There is actually such a thing as healthy chocolate and it is available from your supermarket. Next time you crave some chocolate, pick up a bar of dark chocolate with 70 or 80 per cent cocoa content. It’s the high cocoa content, along with some good fats, that provides us with various health benefits.

Chocolate is an antioxidant

The high cocoa content of dark chocolate increases its antioxidant properties. Because cocoa comes from a plant, it contains flavonoids, which are a naturally occurring antioxidant. Antioxidants protect us from harmful environmental effects, like stress, sun damage, lack of exercise and an unhealthy diet, which can damage the cells in the body. Antioxidants are good for every part of your body.

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Chocolate for a healthy heart

Dark chocolate is good for your heart in two ways. Firstly, it has been shown to lower the bad cholesterol levels in your body as well as lowering blood sugar levels. This has to do with its antioxidant properties. Secondly, it can lower blood pressure, reducing the risk of a heart attack, stroke or heart disease. Once again, it is the antioxidants found in dark chocolate that keep veins healthy and our heart functioning well.

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Chocolate as an anti-depressant

We’re all familiar with that desire to launch into a chocolate binge when feeling down. Instead of reaching for the high sugar, high calorie, high saturated fat milk chocolate, go for a few pieces of healthy dark chocolate. It’s true, chocolate does lift your mood and there is a reason for this. Dark chocolate stimulates the production of endorphins (naturally occurring chemicals that produce feelings of pleasure) in your body. Serotonin levels also increase when we eat healthy chocolate, which acts as a natural anti-depressant. A substance called theobromine, which is present in dark chocolate, acts as a natural stimulant, giving you the boost you need when feeling a little down.

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