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Benefits of Chocolate – Happiness, More Sex and Heart Health

health benefits of chocolate“Where did you come from, baby? How did you know I needed you?  ~You Sexy Thing/Hot Chocolate

Better heart health. Anti-aging properties. Decreased risk of stroke. Better sex. All from one little magic bean.

Admit it. You knew it was coming…

…the day I would write about the benefits of chocolate. Seeing that this is February, with Valentine’s Day right around the corner, it seems that an ode to chocolate is quite fitting.

If I could snort raw cocoa powder, I would. If I could have chocolate syrup delivered via IV, I’d have a drip running in 24/7.

If I could fall into that lovely chocolate river so exquisitely flowing in the original “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” movie,  I’d drown a happy woman

Aside from the fact that talking about chocolate makes me all warm and fuzzy inside there are some actual benefits to eating the brown elixir of joy. I am not talking about white chocolate (which, by the way, contains no cocoa powder), or the cheap, waxy kind. I am talking about real chocolate, with genuine ingredients like milk, sugar and cocoa powder….the kind that lights up your brain and releases all kids of legal chemicals.

Putting my pro-chocolate stance away for a moment, let’s pretend we are non-biased towards the all mighty cocoa bean and examine its real benefits:

YOUR HEALTH

1. Dark chocolate (bleh) is good for your  heart. It lowers your blood pressure, reduces your LDL (bad cholesterol) and raises HDL (good cholesterol).

2. Chocolate contains flavonoids, which act as antioxidants (antioxidants protect the body against damage caused by free radicals. I’m not sure what free radicals are, but they don’t sound very healthy). Flavonoids also help improve blood flow to the brain and make you more alert.

3. Chocolate may decrease your risk of a stroke.

4. Chocolate may help lessen the symptoms of PMS.

YOUR MENTAL HEALTH

1. Chocolate makes you feel happier by stimulating your serotonin production (a higher serotonin levels produces a feeling of well-being).

2. Women who eat chocolate regularly often report a better sex life. A new study found that chocolate-eating women “had the highest levels of desire, arousal and satisfaction from sex.” ‘Nuff said.

3. Chocolate contains the “love chemical” PEA (pheylethaylamine). PEA produces those happy, giddy feelings we get when we are in love, and also helps boost seratonin (happy feeling chemical) and dopamine (sexual arousal chemical) levels. A bonus: chocolate will still respect you in the morning.

4. Chocolate “lights up” the same parts of your brain that other (not legal) chemicals do.

Of course, not everyone respond to the chemicals in chocolate the same and not all chocolate is created equal. Most of the studies have shown that dark chocolate is the form that truly has most of the beneficial properties. And we do have to watch our fat and sugar – chocolate is loaded with both.

Now, a moment on our lips equals good health benefits. What more could you want?  Life is short. Enjoy a little bit of chocolate.

Onward and forward.

~Helen

Photo ©eszter

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