With the Easter weekend done and dusted, most of us are suffering from a kind of “chocolate hangover”. You know what we mean...
You’re sluggish, bloated and maybe even vowing to eat all your veggies this week and stay away from the Easter egg sales. Well, there’s some good news for those of us who have overindulged over the last few days…ok, well maybe weeks! Chocolate does have some health benefits after all. Here are some things to put your guilty conscience at ease. Unfortunately, these only count if you’re a dark chocolate kinda person – milk and white chocolate definitely don’t offer the same benefits as they’re loaded with sugar, no matter how delicious they might be!
Research has shown that chocolate can help lower blood pressure and improve blood flow to the heart, as well as prevent blood clots. It also reduces cholesterol, which can lower your risk of heart disease. All of this improves heart health and reduces your risk for heart attack, so just think about all the cardiovascular benefits you’re gaining next time you reach for the Lindt.
What other diseases can a square or two of dark chocolate help to prevent? Stroke is one, with reports that it could lower your risk by up to 17%. And if that isn’t a good enough excuse to keep some good quality chocolate hiding away, it may also help reduce your risk of diabetes and prevent cancer. Sounds mad, doesn’t it? That a sweet treat could help prevent diabetes. However, cocoa can help improve insulin sensitivity so eating chocolate in moderation can actually be beneficial for delaying or preventing the onset of diabetes.
And though most diet books will tell you otherwise, chocolate is reported to aid in weight loss too. Yes, really. Chocolate can help trigger the release of the hormones which tell your brain when you’re full, so researchers have suggested that one square of chocolate (preferably melted on the tongue) twenty minutes before and one twenty minutes after your dinner can help stop you from overeating or raiding the fridge for a post-dinner snack. And because cocoa can help with insulin sensitivity, it also helps to prevent sugar spikes which can lead to weight gain. Once again though, this is only true of dark chocolate with over 70% cacao.
The last benefit? Well, we’re not scientists, but we reckon the happy feeling that comes with a bite of good quality chocolate must do something good for our health!