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From slowing aging to improving vision, studies have proven that chocolate (stick to dark for maximum results) can actually be beneficial for your physical and mental health. Here are eight reasons why you can have your chocolate, and eat it too.
1. Enhances brain function
Evidence suggests that chocolate can actually make you smarter. In a study, adult participants were given a small bar of chocolate. After 30 to 60 minutes, the volunteer's brain activity was measured using electroencephalography. Results showed a rise in the gamma frequency in the cerebral cortical regions of the brain. Researchers discovered that this increase could enhance the neuroplasticity of the brain, benefitting your behavior and brain health. More focus, fewer mood swings.
2. Improves gut microbiome
Your gut shares your chocolate cravings, according to a study. You have both good and bad bacteria in your microbiome. The good bacteria, such as Bidobacterium and lactic acid bacteria, feed on the chocolate to survive, ferment and overpopulate the bad bacteria. Rich in prebiotics, the fiber in chocolate restores the lining to your gut wall. Plus, chocolate is full of magnesium, which helps keep your digestive system working smoothly. Tummy troubles? Stick to 70 percent cocoa or higher to ensure quality ingredients and low sugar content.
Related: 10 Weird Habits That Can Actually Be Good for You
3. Lowers BMI
Yes, you can still shop in the candy aisle and lose weight. Organic dark chocolate is rich in antioxidants that help reduce inflammation in the body. This balances your immune system, speeds up your metabolism and help you shed any extra weight caused by inflammation. Dark chocolate is also full of healthy fats that prevent insulin spikes, otherwise known as the mid-afternoon slump. According to a study in the Journal of Proteome Research, the monounsaturated fats (MUFAS) can also boost your metabolism, helping you burn fat more efficiently. It also lowers cortisol, the stress hormone linked closely to weight gain.
4. Lifts your mood
Feeling blue? It’s perfectly safe to self-medicate with some chocolate. Dark chocolate increases your serotonin, an antidepressant that boosts your mood. It also causes your brain to release the neurotransmitter phenylethylamine, otherwise known as the “love drug.”
5. Slows aging
Swap the botox for a chocolate bar. Dark chocolate is rich in epicatechin, a flavonol that can enhance mitochondrial biogenesis. Mitogenesis is the creation of new mitochondria, which in turn, slow the body from aging. Save a buck and ditch the expensive face treatments to indulge in a small amount of dark chocolate on a regular basis.