6 reasons to love dark chocolate

We are undeniably a nation of chocoholics, with the UK coming fifth in the world’s highest chocolate-eating countries of 2014. However, the good news is that you don’t need to resist indulging if you are on a healthy diet, because milk chocolate’s sophisticated older sister – dark chocolate – has plenty of health benefits to warrant the treat.

Chocolate is often the first thing we think about cutting out of our diet; however, before you embark on a period of chocolate-fasting and resist any tempting chocolatey treats, you might like to read our top reasons to love dark chocolate. A little of the good stuff – with a minimum of 70 per cent cocoa solids – is actually really good for you, rich in natural antioxidants and vital minerals including potassium, iron, magnesium and copper.

The benefits of dark chocolate

dark chocolate brownies Liz Earle WellbeingHealthy hearts

Recent studies have shown that due to its high content of polyphenols and other antioxidants, eating a small amount of the best quality dark chocolate twice or three times a week may help reduce inflammation, and lower both blood pressure and bad cholesterol. It can even help improve and protect the general health of our heart and circulatory system.

Curb your appetite

A little dark chocolate may also help curb our appetite for unhealthier foods. Research at the University of Copenhagen revealed that dark chocolate is more filling than milk chocolate and reduces cravings for salty, fatty or sugary items, helping you keep your hunger at bay for longer.

Improve your memory

Eating chocolate may also increase blood flow to the brain and be particularly helpful in preventing memory loss in older people. In a 30 day study, one group of pensioners drank two cups of low-fat hot cocoa every day and outperformed another non-cocoa drinking group in a variety of mental and memory tests.

nutty raw chocolate trufflesGet happy

You may not be surprised to learn that there’s a science behind our love for chocolate. It contains a chemical called phenylethylamine (PEA) which is the same chemical your brain creates when you fall head-over-heels in love. PEA causes the release of endorphins, so eating dark chocolate may make you feel happier. Some research suggests that this may be why dark chocolate can help those suffering from depression feel less anxious and irritable.

Protect your skin

Dark chocolate’s high-cocoa content was shown in a study to cause an increase in blood circulation to the upper layers of the skin. These added blood vessels can help provide the healthy oxygenation your skin needs to help protect itself and give a youthful glow.

A matter of taste

Last, but by no means least, is the unique bitter taste of dark chocolate. Smooth, sophisticated, scrumptious…some days, just nothing else will do!

Wellbeing Wisdom

  • Chocolate contains a chemical called phenylethylamine (PEA) which causes the release of endorphins
  • Dark chocolate’s high-cocoa content cause an increase in blood circulation to the skin, helping give you a youthful glow