Easter is around the corner and for some people that means a lot of chocolate. Perhaps this year swap the milk chocolate for dark and reap the bountiful benefits of it. Here are the top 10 benefits of dark chocolate.

 

1. Good for the heart and circulation

A recent study found that dark chocolate helps restore flexibility to arteries while also preventing white blood cells from sticking to the walls of blood vessels – both common causes of artery clogging.

2. Reduces risk of stroke

Researchers in Finland have found that chocolate consumption lowers the risk of suffering a stroke – by a staggering 17 per cent average in the group of men they tested.

 

3. It’s mineral rich

Dark chocolate is packed with beneficial minerals such as potassium, zinc and selenium, and a 100g bar of dark (70 per cent or more) choc provides 67 per cent of the RDA of iron.

 

4. Reduces cholesterol

Consumption of cocoa has been shown to reduce levels of “bad” cholesterol (LDL) and raise levels of “good” cholesterol, potentially lowering the risk of cardiovascular disease.

 

5. Good for your skin

The flavonols in dark chocolate can protect the skin against sun damage (though you’d probably better still slap on some sun cream).

 

6. It can help you lose weight

Chocolate can help you lose weight. Really. Neuroscientist Will Clower says a small square of good choc melted on the tongue 20 minutes before a meal triggers the hormones in the brain that say “I’m full”, cutting the amount of food you subsequently consume. Finishing a meal with the same small trigger could reduce subsequent snacking.

7. Good for mothers and babies

A Finnish study found that chocolate reduced stress in expectant mothers, and that the babies of such mothers smiled more often than the offspring of non-chocolate-eating parents.

8. It may prevent diabetes

It sounds mad, but cocoa has been shown to improve insulin sensitivity. So dark chocolate – in moderation – might delay or prevent the onset of diabetes.

9. Chocolate is good for the brain

Flavanols are thought to reduce memory loss in older people, and the anti-inflamatory qualities of dark chocolate have been found beneficial in treating brain injuries such as concussion.

10. Chocolate makes you feel better

Chocolate contains phenylethylamine (PEA), which is the same chemical that your brain creates when you feel like you’re falling in love. PEA encourages your brain to release feel-good endorphins.