I mean, full disclaimer, I can’t remember a time I ever needed a reason to eat dark chocolate, per se.
But I used to think eating chocolate was a sinful indulgence.
Now, listen. Blowing your emergency fund on a pair of black Christian Louboutins is a sinful indulgence.
But eating chocolate? Why it’s almost a sinful indulgence not to.
Firstly, because no food is good or bad. All food is just food - some more nutritious than others.
Secondly, chocolate tastes delicious and life is short and meant to be enjoyed.
Most significantly, chocolate (particularly dark chocolate) has a wealth of health benefits. Why, it’s practically a superfood!
If you’re Jonesing for a rich, velvety block of Lindt 95% dark, here are my favorite reasons why you should totally go for it!
1. CHOCOLATE IS CHOC FULL (GET IT?) OF ANTIOXIDANTS
Gram for gram, the cocoa bean is one of the world’s richest antioxidant sources. It’s loaded with flavonols, polyphenols, and catechins - strong antioxidants.
One study even found that dark chocolate had more antioxidants than blueberries and acai! Chocolate bowl for breakfast? Uh, yes, please!
2. CHOCOLATE MAY REDUCE YOUR RISK OF HEART DISEASE AND DIABETES
One study found cocoa reduced LDL cholesterol (the bad kind) and increased HDL cholesterol (the good kind).
Because it protects against LDL cholesterol oxidization, cocoa reduces the risk of cholesterol in the arteries. In fact, a study of 470 men found that cocoa reduced the risk of death from heart disease by a massive 50%. Another study found eating chocolate reduced the risk of plaqued-up arteries by 32%.
Dark chocolate has also been shown to reduce insulin resistance, which can reduce your risk of type 2 diabetes.
(Where do they find participants for all these chocolate studies, by the way? I volunteer as tribute. I’ll even do it for free, as the generous human I am.)
3. CHOCOLATE PROTECTS YOUR SKIN
While I'm not letting you off leash to go gadding about unprotected in the hot sun, chocolate can be an additional measure for sun damage protection.
Everybody has a MED (minimal erythemal dose) individual to their skin type. This is the minimum amount of UVB rays to cause skin redness and damage 24 hours after sun exposure.
One study found that MED doubled in participants who ate dark chocolate for 12 weeks.
So before summer hits, or a vacation to the tropics, load up on that chocolate as an added backup for your sunscreen.
4. CHOCOLATE IS BRAIN FOOD
There’s a reason your body screams for chocolate to combat the 3 pm brain fog.
A study found increased blood flow to the brain in participants who ate chocolate for five days.
Because it has stimulants like caffeine and theobromine, chocolate also gives your brain a short term turbo boost!
5. CHOCOLATE MAKES YOU HAPPY (OBVIOUSLY)
Chocolate contains mood-boosting chemical phenethylamine, metabolized as serotonin: the happy chemical. It produces the same feeling you get when you’re falling in love.
I mean, I’ve certainly fallen in love with a block of chocolate (or several) in my time.
And I will say - eating food that tastes good makes everybody happy.
There’s only so much a bowl of kale will do for your mood (and in my experience, it isn’t much at that).
6. CHOCOLATE HELPS YOU RELAX
Several studies have found that chocolate reduces anxiety. One study recorded that anxious people who ate 40 g (five squares) of chocolate daily had lower cortisol (stress hormone) levels than they did before the study.
That’s right. I basically eat chocolate because science.
7. CHOCOLATE IS THE ULTIMATE WINGMAN
The Aztecs believed that chocolate was a powerful aphrodisiac. In modern times it’s continued to enjoy cult status as an aphrodisiac.
Whilst science hasn’t evidence for aphrodisiac qualities in chocolate and has generally rubbished the concept, there can be little argument with just how much pleasure eating chocolate brings.
Both sex and chocolate increase blood flow and trigger the release of all the right happy chemicals. And because it lowers stress, which can be a major bedroom buzzkill, it’s easy to see why it’ll put you in the mood.
I mean, I don’t see why we can’t keep LOOKING for evidence...
8. CHOCOLATE HELPS YOU LIVE LONGER
Gather round, my children, and listen to the story of Jeanne Louise Calment, one of the oldest women to have ever lived. She lived to be 122 years old and touted eating over a kilo of chocolate a week as one of her secrets to longevity.
I don’t know about eating a kilo of dark chocolate a week, but I do know there was a Harvard study published which found that, on average, eating chocolate can add two years to your life expectancy. Woot!
9. CHOCOLATE IS FREAKIN' DELICIOUS
Food is one of life’s greatest pleasures! And there are few pleasures more exquisite than sitting down with a row of your favorite chocolate.
You can melt it, drink it, put it in a cake, or coat biscuits with it. You can even make fancy savory dishes with it.
We eat for all kinds of reasons: to satisfy our hunger, to nourish our bodies, to satisfy a craving, to bond with friends and family, to cheer ourselves up, or to augment an enjoyable activity.
We don’t always just have to eat for our health: life is short, and here to be lived, and there is so much food to be enjoyed. Why not eat something delicious and satisfying just for pleasure every now and again?
10. CHOCOLATE RELIEVES THE SYMPTOMS OF DEMENTOR ATTACKS
If you know, you know.
Well, now listen. Just like any other food out there, if you eat nothing but truckloads of chocolate all day long, it’s not going to do you any favors.
And that’s not because chocolate is specifically unhealthy, it’s because any food consumed in excess is unhealthy. One time I got addicted to carrots and turned bright orange for a while.
True story. Mum thought I was jaundiced.
The point is, as part of balanced, varied, and mindful eating, chocolate is a wonderful food to always keep on hand as a pantry/fridge staple.
But who needs a reason, right? ;-)
Now I’d love to hear from you! Comment below with your all time FAVOURITE chocolate.
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