With Valentine's Day around the corner, it's probably about time to start justifying the loads of chocolate we're all about to binge on whether we're attached or single (because honestly, not a single soul is exempt from the Valentine's candy aisle). Good news: Real doctors and scientists have given us all the glorious ammo we could ever ask for to justify our deep, dark love of velvety chocolate. There's one catch, though—it's got to be dark and not combined with a ton of other "junk" like sugar, fat and artificial flavors. If that's doable for you, these five scientifically backed reasons why chocolate is really good for you will give you enough happiness to last an entire lifetime.
1. Chocolate wards off cardiovascular disease.
Now it makes sense why chocolates come in those cute little heart boxes. According to Harvard Medical School, there's real research backing up the claim that flavanols found in chocolate (specifically the dark stuff) help improve the fat content in our blood. Research showed that volunteers who ate between 200 and 600 milligrams of cocoa flavanols daily had favorable changes in their blood lipid levels as well as lower markers of inflammation.
2. Cocoa flavanols are linked to improved brain function.
Can someone just send the team at Harvard a bucket of high fives already? They also found a link between consuming chocolate and improved thinking and brain function. Suddenly, keeping a small container of chocolate by your desk doesn't seem like a bad idea; it actually seems like a proactive strategy to boost work performance. And you can show this article to your boss when you ask him/her to fund your habit.
3. Chocolate is healthy for circulation.
Chocolate is apparently so good at improving circulation that the Europeans have actually packed all its goodness into a pill. The Royal Society of Chemistry in the UK found that cocoa flavanols help arteries relax so blood flow can improve. Cheers (with a cup of sipping chocolate) to that!
4. Chocolate may have an anti-tumor effect.
That's not to say that eating a ton of dark chocolate will cure you of any existing tumors, but preliminary research has shown some positive data on chocolate's amazing flavanols actually breaking up tumor activity before it starts.
5. Chocolate is downright anti-inflammatory.
That's right, chocolate can reverse inflammation, the culprit behind so many signs of aging, arthritis, and a variety of other age-related effects. The key is to not pair your cocoa beans with inflammatory agents like sugar, so steer clear of calling a giant bowl of chocolate ice cream a "health food."
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