A box of chocolates is a traditional Valentine’s Day treat – but what you may not know is that it has many health benefits. Eaten in moderation of course and if you can choose organic or raw chocolate and the greatest health benefits come from plain dark chocolate with a high cocoa content rather than milk or white.
Chocolate contains flavonoids, which have antioxidant activity and the ability to impede the harmful oxidation of low-density lipoprotein (LDL), usually known as “bad cholesterol.” Studies have also shown that eating dark chocolate can lower blood pressure and insulin resistance, as well as help prevent the formation of blood clots.
HEALTHY FACT #1: High in antioxidants
Ounce for ounce, chocolate is one of the richest food sources of these crucial substances. Antioxidants neutralize free radicals–rogue oxygen molecules that can accelerate aging and the problems that come with it.
HEALTHY FACT #2: Rich in valuable micronutrients
Chocolate supplies meaningful amounts of potassium, zinc, magnesium and iron.
HEALTHY FACT #3: Cholesterol “neutral”
Chocolate has been found to help promote healthy cholesterol levels. And, believe it or not, the fat found in chocolate is “cholesterol neutral,” meaning that it doesn’t have a negative effect on cholesterol levels.
HEALTHY FACT #4: Good for blood pressure
Chocolate helps relax blood vessels so blood can flow through them easier. People who ate just over 3 ounces of premium quality dark chocolate each day for two weeks had an easier time maintaining healthy blood pressure, according to one study.
HEALTHY FACT #5: A safe, mild stimulant
Chocolate actually has relatively little caffeine, but many people notice a quick increase in alertness and improvement in mood that can last hours after eating.
HEALTHY FACT #6: A way to reduce stroke risk
According to a study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, scientists found that women who ate the most chocolate, had a 20 percent reduction in their stroke risk:
HEALTHY FACT #7: It makes us smile
According to a poll conducted by the British Dental Health Foundation it is chocolate that makes us smile the most, ahead even of our closest relationships. Smiling naturally relaxes you and reduces your stress levels, another plus in the health column.
Chocolate has topped the poll for the thing that makes most people smile.
As this year’s National Smile Month comes to an end today, the has been asking hundreds of people what makes them smile the most. In a close fought competition a simple bar of chocolate has topped the poll, followed by ‘seeing a loved one’.
So unwrap that box and share the health benefits around!