Yes, you no longer have to feel guilty about buying a box of chocolates for yourself (like me) or loved ones this year on Valentine’s Day. Because in recent years, several studies have emerged unveiling the amazing health benefits of dark chocolate – in moderation, of course. And okay, not everyone loves dark chocolate. But benefits 1, 2, and 6 seem to include any type, so read on, milk-chocolate lovers!
In the past, you may have shied away from chocolate Valentine’s Day gifts for him or her (or yourself), citing its high levels of sugar, calories, and bad saturated fats. However, Dr. George Krucik from Healthline.com says: “The benefits of dark chocolate on the heart, on the risk of diabetes and impact that the antioxidant flavonoids in chocolate may provide – outweigh the risks of the saturated fats and calories that come along for the ride.” So there you go, you heard it from a doctor. You should be eating dark chocolate.
If that’s not enough, then let me present eight wonderful reasons why our hearts can start loving chocolate again, and why you should be eating it NOT ONLY on February 14th, but several times a week (if not every day).
-Fellow Chocolate Lover, Marian
1. Combat Type 2 Diabetes
Before you ask, no, we’re not celebrating April Fool’s Day two months early. A study from UEA in England says consuming high levels of flavonoids (found in dark chocolates – check the label) has shown to lower insulin resistance, thus providing protection against Type 2 diabetes. That’s right, eating chocolate could actually help you fight off diabetes. Go figure.
2. Heat Up Your Memory with Hot Chocolate
Okay, so it’s only one study by Harvard, and the average participant age was 73, but there are indications that consuming hot chocolate may prevent memory decline. That’s a good enough excuse in my book to drink two cups of hot chocolate a day.
3. Show Your Skin Some Love
Laura Kenny, editor in chief and co-founder of YouBeauty.com, remarks: “Dark Chocolate that’s made with at least 70% cacao is an amazing beauty enhancer! The key ingredients are flavonoids, potent antioxidants that help your skin protect itself from wrinkle-causing UV damage, fight free radicals, and increase blood flow to your skin (hello, dewy glow!).
In one study, dark chocolate even improved skin hydration and thickness. Chocolate may also have a positive effect on our metabolism thanks to epicatechins, a type of flavonoid that has been shown to increase lean muscle mass in studies on rats. A 2012 study showed that people who eat chocolate five times per week have a lower BMI than those who don’t.
Dark chocolate works to protect your skin from the outside, too. Compounds found in the cocoa butter used to make chocolate combat environmental damage (from pollution, sun rays and cigarette smoke) by protecting the skin’s barrier, and blocking the enzymes responsible for producing free radicals.”
So prep yourself for that spring sun with chocolate!
4. Take Care of Your Heart So It Can Love Again
Increase your chance of a healthy, working heart by eating chocolate. A square a day (or even just a few times a week) can help lower cholesterol and blood pressure. Several studies have been conducted to show chocolate lowers the risk of heart disease and strokes, due to the high levels of anti-oxidants and flavonoids in dark chocolate (both of these things are really good for you!).
5. It’s a Relaxation Station
You don’t even have to eat chocolate to get your relaxation on. Simply smelling chocolate increases theta brain waves, which in turn causes relaxation. So unwind on Valentine’s Day by whipping out the chocolate and inhaling its chocolate-y goodness.
6. Make a Happy Baby
Apparently, this study says eating chocolate daily during pregnancy can lead to a more “active” and positively “reactive” baby who basically laughs and smiles a lot. That seems like a solid, cheap investment in the future happiness of your kid.
7. Cough Relief
It’s February still, and this Valentine’s Day you might be feeling under the weather – that’s what you told that guy in your office who asked you out, right? Well, dark chocolate contains theobromine, which helps suppress coughs without making you feel drowsy. Now you can say “I Love You” to your valentine with chocolates, while simultaneously saying “please get rid of that cough so I can finally sleep at night.”
8. Make Valentine’s Day Extra Happy
You’ve most likely already noticed that chocolate can improve your mood. Not only does dark chocolate contain the anti-depressant serotonin, but it also helps with production endorphins. Now you can eat those chocolate covered strawberries not just because they’re tasty, but because you genuinely care about your health. Valentine’s Day is officially guilt-free.