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The Health Benefits of Dark Chocolate

Do you fear the cravings of a sweet tooth? Cravings for sweets don’t have to throw you off your path to success. When surrounded by goodies galore, reach for the one that has health benefits attached. Dark Chocolate.

That’s right – dark chocolate can be a healthier alternative to other treats if it has at least 75% cocoa and is made from organic ingredients. When faced with a choice between dark or milk chocolate, always remember that milk contains less than 35% cocoa, milk and lots of added sugars.

Here are the top 5 health benefits of dark chocolate:

1. Relieves Stress

To relieve stress or lift a low mood, you can always rely on dark chocolate. It helps increase the levels of the neurotransmitter serotonin that acts as a natural antidepressant. Dark chocolate also contains magnesium which helps fight stress, fatigue, depression and irritability. When eating chocolate to fight stress, make sure it has more than 85% cocoa.

2. Lowers Cholesterol Level

The cocoa in dark chocolate has been shown to reduce LDL or low-density lipoprotein (the bad cholesterol) levels in the bloodstream that clog the veins and inner walls of the arteries, and inhibit proper functioning. The powerful antioxidants in dark chocolate also prevent the oxidization of LDL, which reduces the risk of heart attacks or strokes. This is due to the presence of flavonoids and theobromine in cocoa.

3. Reduces Blood Pressure

Dark chocolate can reduce high blood pressure. Flavanol, a flavonoid present in cocoa, helps lower blood pressure and improve blood flow to your heart. The flavanol in dark chocolate stimulates the endothelium, the lining of arteries, to produce nitric oxide. Nitric oxide sends signals to the arteries to relax, which lowers resistance to blood flow and thus reduces blood pressure. Simply eat a small piece of dark chocolate containing at least 85% cocoa daily to lower your blood pressure.

4. Can Help Prevent Stroke

Eating moderate amounts of dark chocolate regularly can even lower the chance of a stroke in later life. This is due to its high level of flavonoids, a type of antioxidant. Flavonoids can reduce blood stickiness and prevent blood clotting, which in turn helps stave off heart attacks and strokes.

5. Boosts Brain Power

Dark chocolate also improves brain function. According to a study done at University of Nottingham, consuming dark chocolate can boost blood flow in the brain for up to three hours. This improves short-term memory and general alertness levels for short periods. Plus, the high amount of flavanol found in dark chocolate improves brain function for people fighting sleep deprivation, and even slows the effects of aging by increasing circulation. Cocoa found in dark chocolate improves concentration, response time and memory recall.

When the sweet tooth calls, reach for the treat that allows you to fight off the sweet tooth while still benefiting the rest of your body!