Those of us who love chocolate don’t really need an excuse to eat it every day ― having a bar stashed in the kitchen is reason enough. But if you’re one of those chocolate lovers who feels a little bad about your habit, we have great news for you: eating dark chocolate with a high cocoa percentage is a part of a healthy diet. Some would even say that it’s a beneficial part of your daily diet.
If you’re looking to validate your sweet habit, behold, here are reasons you should feel good about your dark chocolate obsession:
Dark chocolate just makes you happy. Not just because it tastes so dang good ― which definitely helps ― but because it contains tryptophan. Tryptophan is an amino acid that’s used by the brain to make serotonin, the neurotransmitter that makes us feel happiness.
Dark chocolate with a high cocoa content contains a solid amount of soluble fiber. A 100-gram bar of 70-85 percent chocolate has 11 grams of fiber. Soluble fiber helps keep cholesterol down, keeps you feeling fuller longer, and is good for your digestive health.
Eating dark chocolate might be good for your brain. That’s right, eating chocolate may keep your brain sharp and help you ward off dementia. A four-decade long study found that people with frequent chocolate consumption preformed better on brain-powered tests.
It’s good for your heart, too. Eating dark chocolate may lower your risk of cardiovascular disease. One study showed that eating chocolate five or more times a week lowered the risk of cardiovascular disease by 57 percent.
Dark chocolate makes for happier babies. And who doesn’t want a happy baby? A Finnish study found that mothers who ate more chocolate during pregnancy had happier, less fussy babies. This is great news for pregnant women everywhere.
It’s got the flavonoids we all want and need. Flavonoids are a plant-based antioxidant found in cocoa, and are one of the main reasons that dark chocolate is so good for you. These antioxidants may lower blood pressure and cholesterol, and also maintain the health of your blood vessels.
Dark chocolate is also good for your skin. Eating it can actually help protect you from sunburn thanks to two antioxidants, phenols and catechins, found in dark chocolate.
It’s a natural stress reliever — and we can all use a little less stress, especially these days. Dark chocolate is found to lower the levels of stress hormones, which could very well be part of the reason you crave the stuff when feeling stressed out.