If you're looking for a healthy way to satisfy your sweet tooth, reach for a piece of dark chocolate (at least 70 percent cacao). Not only can it help you exercise longer and lower blood pressure, but new research shows it can improve stress levels, fight inflammation, and boost mood, memory, and immunity.
The research, being presented at the Experimental Biology 2018 meeting, is the first time the effect of cacao was studied on humans to determine how it affects cognitive and cardiovascular health. The flavonoids in cacao are anti-inflammatory and potent antioxidants, the research found, and it is beneficial for brain and heart health.
"This is the first time that we have looked at the impact of large amounts of cacao in doses as small as a regular-sized chocolate bar in humans over short or long periods of time, and are encouraged by the findings," Lee S. Berk, DrPH, principal investigator on the studies, said, according to Science Daily. "These studies show us that the higher the concentration of cacao, the more positive the impact on cognition, memory, mood, immunity and other beneficial effects."
Of course, it's always important to pay attention to serving size so you don't go overboard on calories, and make sure the dark chocolate is at least 70 percent cacao. But if you're craving dessert and looking for a way to boost your brain and heart health at the same time, dark chocolate is a healthy choice — it's proven by science, after all.