Cue the jumps for joy and sighs of relief, today we’re looking at the health benefits of dark chocolate. Made from the seed of the cocoa tree, dark chocolate is packed with antioxidants and other nutrients that positively affect your health. Although cocoa on its own is bitter and chalky, when mixed with milk, sugar and butter it transforms into one of the most popular and delicious treats on earth. But snack smart. These added ingredients taste good but aren’t so good for you – they add calories and dilute the benefits of cocoa. Stick to dark chocolate that’s 70 to 85 percent cocoa, because that little bean packs a mean punch. Infused with healthy chemicals like flavonoids and theobromine, cocoa combats disease and propels chocolate into superfood territory.

Whether you’re looking to lose weight or reduce stress, look no further than a little slice of chocolatey heaven. Check out 5 awesome health benefits of eating chocolate.

1. WEIGHT LOSS

Who would have thought something that tastes so good could actually help with weight loss? Dark chocolate makes you feel more full and satisfied than milk chocolate does, therefore curbing your cravings for sweet, fatty and salty foods. Indulging in a few squares of dark chocolate can keep your portions at bay and keep you at your optimal health.

2. HEART HEALTH

Although you shouldn’t replace your gym sessions with chocolate, recent studies have shown that chocolate has awesome cardiovascular benefits. A square of dark chocolate a day can lower blood pressure and reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke. Most of the credit goes to the flavonoids, which are antioxidant compounds that boost the flexibility of veins and arteries.

3. STRESS REDUCTION

We’ve all been there. You’re feeling stressed out and emotional and all you want to do is rip open a bar of chocolate and dig right in. Go ahead. Chocolate releases calming endorphins that reduce anxiety and stress hormone levels. It’s also high in magnesium, which is a certified mood booster. Just make sure you don’t overindulge, as ingesting high amounts of sugar and fat can lead to bloating and weight gain.

4. ANTIOXIDANTS

Flavanols are the main type of flavonoid found in cocoa. They include procyanidins, epicatechins, and catechins, which have been shown to lower the risk of lung cancer, prostate cancer, asthma and type 2 diabetes. When we eat foods rich in flavonoids, like dark chocolate, we benefit from their amazing antioxidant power.

5. GOOD FOR YOUR SKIN

Contrary to the belief that chocolate contributes to breakouts, researchers have found that there’s actually no evidence to suggest this is true. In fact, chocolate may improve your skin. Dark chocolate high in flavanols protects skin against sun damage, resulting in reduced redness and flakiness. I would still recommend slathering on the sunblock, but it’s nice to know that chocolate can provide extra protection.

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Kate is a freelance lifestyle writer based in Toronto, Canada. She’s always had a passion for the written word, and after interning at publications such as FASHION Magazine and The Kit, she knew she had to take her passion to the next level. When she’s not sharing her love for styling outfits, home cooked meals, fitness endeavours and home décor, she’s probably taking a hot yoga class or watching the latest series on Netflix. You can find her on her blog, Layered Indulgence, and on Twitter and Instagram.

This is an excerpt from the article 5 Health Benefits of Eating Chocolate which originally appeared on http://www.cloudywithachanceofwine.com/.