3 Health Benefits of Dark Chocolate

Dark chocolate© iStockphoto / Thinkstock

Although it seems too good to be true, dark chocolate can actually be good for you! When consumed in moderation, this delicious treat has some powerful health benefits. Following are three of the major reasons to indulge:

1. It can help prevent heart disease: Like tea, dark chocolate contains flavonoids, which are compounds that act as antioxidants. Flavonoids protect cells from harmful molecules—called free radicals—that are produced when the body breaks down food or is exposed to sunlight or smoke. Free radicals can cause cell damage that leads to heart disease. Flavonoids can also lower blood pressure and reduce LDL cholesterol (i.e., the bad cholesterol) by up to 10 percent.

2. It can improve your mood: Dark chocolate stimulates the production of endorphins, chemicals in the brain that bring on feelings of pleasure. It also contains the chemical serotonin, which acts as an anti-depressant.
3. It can protect your skin: German researchers found that the flavonoids in dark chocolate absorb UV light, help protect and increase blood flow to the skin, and improve skin’s hydration and complexion.

For all of its health benefits, though, dark chocolate does contain a lot of calories. So, experts recommend sticking to no more than three ounces of the sweet stuff per day.

Sources: About.com, CNN.com, eHow.com

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