6 Reasons Chocolate is Actually Good for You [LIST]

Or, 6 science-backed excuses to indulge [LIST]

Dec 25, 2013

Image by Flickr user gogostevie

When it comes to guilty pleasures, chocolate tends to be pretty high on the list – but it needn't be! Behold: six reasons that indulging in moderate amounts of cocoa-based treats can actually benefit your health. One thing to keep mind - all of these studies found that the darker the chocolate, the better. Tasty!

1. CHOCOLATE REDUCES STRESS

THE SCIENCE: Chocolate contains valeric acid, which works as a relaxant and tranquilizer.
TASTY TIDBIT: The sugar in chocolate might play a role, too – sweet tastes have been found to activate opiate-like substances in the human brain.

Image by Flickr user dMadPhoto

2. CHOCOLATE PROTECTS YOUR SKIN

THE SCIENCE:study carried out by German scientists found that flavonoids in dark chocolate protect your skin from UV rays.
TASTY TIDBIT: The tasty stuff was also found to reduce skin roughness and scaling.

Image by Flickr user Tasumi1968

3. CHOCOLATE KEEPS OLDER BRAINS SHARP

THE SCIENCE: Getting in a daily dose of chocolate can improve thinking abilities in people with mild cognitive impairment, according to a recent geriatric study.
TASTY TIDBIT: If you want to mix it up, the flavonoids responsible for this effect are also found in red wine, grapes, apples and tea.

Image by Flickr user elana's pantry

4. CHOCOLATE IS HEART-HEALTHY (ESPECIALLY FOR WOMEN)

THE SCIENCE:study out of Harvard Medical School from 2009 found that women who ate one or two ounces of chocolate a week had a 32 percent lower risk of heart failure than women who ate none.
TASTY TIDBIT: The same study found that the key flavonoids in cocoa - catechins and epicatechins - have antioxidant effects—such as helping to lower cholesterol.

Image by Flickr user Bob.Fornal

5. CHOCOLATE MAKES YOU LIVE LONGER

THE SCIENCE: The antioxidants in chocolate increase life expectancy by an average of one year, according to research based on Harvard graduates.
TASTY TIDBIT: Frenchwoman Jeanne Louise Calment lived to the age of 122 - the longest confirmed human life span in history.  And guess what she used to eat two pounds of every week? Yep, chocolate.

Image by Flickr user Swamibu

6. CHOCOLATE FILLS YOU UP

THE SCIENCE: Both cocoa powder and dark chocolate are rich in dietary fiber (33g for every 100g), which means it actually keeps you full for longer.
TASTY TIDBIT: Dark chocolate not only keeps you full – it may also reduce cravings for sweet, salty and fatty foods, according to a University of Copenhagen study.

Image by Flickr user anjuli_ayer