The Health benefits of chocolate

By Toby Amidor

Valentine’s Day wouldn’t be complete without chocolate. Instead of feeling guilty for indulging (a little), embrace your love for it. Studies have found that chocolate, especially the dark variety, has several health benefits. Here, six reasons to enjoy this delicious treat.

1. It’s an antioxidant powerhouse
Dark chocolate contains numerous antioxidants including vitamins A, C and E and theobromine, which help repair damaged cells in your body. You’ll find higher amounts of antioxidants in dark chocolate because it has more cocoa, an antioxidant superstar. Opt for a bar that has 70% cocoa or higher.

2. It promotes smooth skin
Flavanol is an antioxidant naturally found in the cocoa plant. A study published in The Journal of Nutrition found that women who drank high flavanol cocoa regularly had less skin roughness and scaling, better blood circulation, and increased skin hydration, compared to women who drank low flavanol cocoa.

3. It helps improve blood pressure
Results from an international review examining the results of 15 studies revealed that eating more flavanols (found in chocolate) can help lower blood pressure. Based on their findings, participants with high blood pressure may be able to reduce their risk of a heart attack or stroke by 20 percent.

4. It aids in muscle recovery
Research shows that athletes who drank fat-free chocolate milk after a fast-paced 45-minute run recovered faster than those who consumed high-carb sports drinks. In fact, in one study, runners in the milk group had higher concentrations of glycogen (a.k.a. muscle fuel) up to 60 minutes post-workout, compared with the sports drink group.

5. It brightens your mood
Having a bad day? Take a bite of dark chocolate. It triggers the release of endorphins, feel good brain chemicals that help create a feeling of euphoria.

6. It spikes libido
A study published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine reveals that women who reported eating one small piece of chocolate daily had higher sex drives then those who didn’t indulge. One explanation: Chocolate contains phenylethylamine (PEA), which releases the same feel-good endorphins we enjoy during sex. Don’t forget to offer a sweet, chocolaty treat to your significant other for a double dose of affection.

For more information on fitness, health and nutrition visit our Fitstudio at Sears.


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