Chocolate lovers unite- I bring you great news! I know it’s hard trying to live a healthy life, and depriving yourself of the small joys in life like chocolate. The good news is that we may have it all wrong- chocolate may not be so bad for us after all.

Now, before you get all excited, let me clarify. Dark chocolate- not milk chocolate or white chocolate- has health benefits that we might not have known about. I don’t know about you, but I’ll take whatever I can get! Chocolate has been deemed “bad” and “unhealthy,” which means it’s one of the first things to go when I go on a strict diet.

New studies have emerged stating that dark chocolate not only isn’t bad for us, but it actually may be beneficial to our health.

Antioxidants

Dark chocolate is high in antioxidants, and we all know how good they are for our bodies. Antioxidants protect the body from free radicals, which are known to cause multiple illnesses and diseases. In this study, dark chocolate was found to have higher antioxidant abilities than some fruits such as blueberries and acai berries. Antioxidants are also known for boosting the immune system and protecting the skin from burns, early aging, and skin cancer.

Blood Pressure

Dark chocolate has been found to help blood flow, and improve blood pressure. The cocoa phenols found in it are known to help lower blood pressure. Not only that, but the flavanols found in dark chocolate play a role in it as well. The flavanols encourage the lining of the arteries to release the gas Nitric Oxide, which helps the arteries relax. The relaxation of the arteries helps blood flow and lowers blood pressure.

Lowers Risk of Diseases

Dark chocolate has compounds that help prevent the oxidation of the bad cholesterol LDL. This reduces the risk of clogged arteries and the risk of heart disease. Multiple studies showed that eating dark chocolate 2-5 times per week lowers the risk of cardiovascular disease by over 50%. Dark chocolate has also been found to reduce the resistance of insulin, which reduces the risk of diabetes and heart disease.

As it is with anything else, moderation is a key factor here. You can’t just eat as much dark chocolate as you want every day. There are also different “kinds” of dark chocolate that you need to watch out for. Some labels will say “Dark Chocolate,” but if you look at the nutrition label it’s not as good as it seems. The higher the cocoa, the better; a good range to shoot for is 70-85% cocoa.

The multiple studies and facts prove that this is not too good to be true. Dark chocolate is the perfect sweet snack to treat yourself to every now and then, and now you can do it guilt-free. Life is all about balance, and it makes the whole thing a lot easier when you don’t have to deprive yourself of everything. Just remember to always check the ingredients and the nutritional facts, and make sure that you are truly eating real dark chocolate.

Gabrielle PfeifferWritten by: Gabrielle Pfeiffer