Chocolate addiction is a real thing. A very real thing. I didn’t believe it myself until I befriended a girl who once misplaced her phone, only to find it a few days later in the pocket of one of her jackets and covered in a gooey layer of melted, white chocolate that she had been carrying around with her. Because that’s what people who are addicted to chocolate do: They carry bars around in their pockets. (I sent the same girl five bars of the aforementioned white chocolate for her birthday a few weeks ago, which I’m pretty sure makes me an enabler.) But that got me thinking: Are there benefits to such an addiction? Sure, the phrase “everything in moderation” is probably the simplest key to a healthy diet, but there must be something I can write to reassure all of you out there who can’t live without that sweet, velvety goodness.
The Huffington Post recently published an article about the beauty benefits of eating dark chocolate, hoping to dispel those pesky rumors that associate bad skin with the popular treat. Keep in mind, of course, that they’re not talking about white or milk chocolate. It’s the low-sugar variety that is going to please your pores. Their findings demonstrate that dark chocolate — which is rich in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants — actually nourishes the skin by shielding against UV rays and erasing wrinkles (as some who’s very pale and very freckled, this is great news). But what about inside-your-body benefits? After all, most people are concerned with their chocolate intake not because of their skin, but because of the effect it could have on their waistline.
Now, it’s highly improbable that we’re going to stumble across an article that says chocolate is going to help you lose weight — it is high in fat; there’s no getting around it — but we did manage to scope out five health benefits of our dark, delicious friend.
Dark chocolate is bursting with antioxidants, which slow the signs of aging — a beauty tip — but also, and probably more importantly, can protect your body from certain types of cancer. Keep in mind, however, that milk — whether it’s within the chocolate or merely your choice of beverage — can interfere with the absorption of these much-desired antioxidants, which is really too bad.
2. Blood Sugar
Dark chocolate not only has a low glycemic index — meaning it won’t cause your blood-sugar level to rise dramatically — but it also helps your cells function normally and therefore reduces insulin resistance. Simply put, dark chocolate can help lower blood pressure and protect against type 2 diabetes.
3. Vitamins and Minerals
Fruits and veggies aren’t the only vitamin- and mineral-stuffed foods: Dark chocolate has a high concentration of potassium and copper, which will help prevent stroke, as well as iron and magnesium. That’s good news for all you anemics out there.
4. Your Brain
Turns out dark chocolate can actually make you smarter. Well, kind of. It increases blood flow to your brain, which can help improve cognitive function.
You know that mushy-gushy feeling you get when you’re falling in love? That’s produced by a chemical called phenylethylamine (PEA), which is found in chocolate and gets your brain to release endorphins, making you feel happier. If that’s not a giant sell for giving into your sweet tooth, I don’t know what is.
Unfortunately, these benefits are pretty much limited to dark chocolate, which will greatly disappoint my friend, who claims she “doesn’t trust anyone” who would pick dark over milk or, God forbid, white (she gets little feisty about these matters). Nonetheless, for the rest of you out there, if you’re looking to get your chocolate fix without sacrificing your health, dark is the way to go.