Chocolate desserts have gotten a bad reputation over the years, and for good reason. The amount of sugar that is typically added means that they are loaded with mostly empty calories. The good news for chocolate lovers is the problem is not with the chocolate itself. In fact, chocolate is a very healthy food.
There are some real health benefits that come from eating chocolate that go beyond the sweet, comfort food appeal.
Improve your mood
First, eating chocolate releases endorphins in the brain. Endorphins are neurotransmitters that work in your brain and affect the way you feel. By eating chocolate you are sending signals to the brain that tell it to feel happy. You get a mood boost, which is one of the reason so many people start to crave chocolate when they are feeling depressed.
The second benefit you get from eating chocolate is that it is loaded with antioxidants. Things like stress, poor diet, and environmental toxins result in free radicals in your body. These free radicals travel throughout your system damaging cell walls. Antioxidants are able to neutralize the effects of free radicals, and prevent this damage. This results in a decrease in several life threatening diseases including strokes, cardiovascular disease, and cancer.
In fact, a 2011 Swedish study discovered that women that ate more than 45g of chocolate each week had a 20% lower incidence of strokes when compared to women that ate less than 9g per week. That is a good benefit for eating less than 2 ounces of chocolate per week.
Control your blood sugar
The third benefit chocolate gives you is that it contains soluble fiber. Soluble fiber has many benefits, and is one of the things most Americans do not get enough of in their diets. Fiber will help slow the rate that sugar enters the blood stream, which helps reduce insulin spikes. It aids in digestion, making sure that more nutrients are absorbed by your body. Fiber also helps you to feel full quicker, so you eat less, and you don't get hungry soon after you're done eating.
While this is far from a complete list, these are just three of the reminders that eating well does not mean you have to do without the foods you love.