It's almost Valentine's Day, and that may mean you've got chocolate on your mind. Though you may be fearing the amount of calories in those heart-shaped boxes, there are many reasons to love Valentine's Day sweet treats. In fact, here are five healthy reasons to eat dark chocolate.
- It helps you exercise longer: A recent study found that eating a tiny amount of dark chocolate before a workout helps fight fatigue, which means you can go that much further during your workout. The amount that worked in the study was tiny — just half a square — but if it's good quality chocolate, a small square will go a long way.
- It's stress relieving: And not just when you're PMSing. A study found that when highly stressed participants ate an ounce and a half of dark chocolate (the equivalent of a Hershey's bar) a day for two weeks, the level of stress hormones in their bodies dropped significantly. While eating a candy bar a day can contribute to a whole new set of stresses if you're watching your weight, it's nice to know that dark chocolate has a measurable effect on stress levels.
- It's heart-healthy: A study found that dark chocolate increases blood flow, which helps keep your ticker in top shape. Those who ate a small amount of chocolate a day had increased blood flow due to more-dilated blood vessels as well as better heart function.
- It's good when you're sick: If you can't get the rest you need because of a nagging cough, try dark chocolate. The theobromine, an ingredient in dark chocolate, has been proven to suppress a cough, but just be careful — if you're trying to go to sleep, remember that a dark chocolate Hershey's bar has 30 milligrams of caffeine, which is the equivalent to a cup of tea.
- It lowers blood pressure: Increasing blood flow also helps your heart in another way. A study found that eating a small square of dark chocolate a day helps regulate your blood pressure by increasing blood flow as well as dilating blood vessels and releasing nitric oxide. If you're managing your blood pressure levels, a daily, small dose of dark chocolate may help.
Source: Flickr User el patojo