Sweet benefits of dark chocolate

 
By Mina Radman • Published: February 14th, 2017
Category: Health in a Heartbeat
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Eying a heart-shaped box of chocolate? Along with symbolizing affection, your Valentine’s Day sweet treat may also benefit your health. If it’s dark chocolate, that is.

Research has long shown dark chocolate is good for the body. But why? Cacao, the beanlike seed from which chocolate is made, is packed with antioxidants and healthy nutrients called flavonoids. Milk chocolate has a low cacao content, while dark chocolate with at least 70 percent cacao allows you to reap the health rewards while limiting the calories and fat found in lighter chocolate.

So what are dark chocolate’s sweet benefits? We know chocolate comforts a broken heart, but studies show dark chocolate literally helps the heart by improving flexibility in the arteries and preventing white blood cells from sticking to the walls of blood vessels.

It sounds counterintuitive, but dark chocolate may also help prevent diabetes. A study published last year in the British Journal of Nutrition found the flavonoids in dark chocolate help control insulin sensitivity.

Are you craving chocolate but watching your weight? A dark chocolate bar is more filling than milk chocolate, and it can weaken your cravings for sweet or salty foods. Its benefits also extend to the gym, where antioxidants found in cacao can keep you energized through a workout.

Lastly, give your brain a boost by eating dark chocolate. Research shows flavonoids widen blood vessels, boosting oxygen and blood flow to the brain for two to three hours.

Chocoholics, enjoy dark chocolate this Valentine’s Day. When consumed in moderation, it will satisfy your sweet tooth —  and benefit your health.