1. It lowers the risk of strokes
A 2011 Swedish study found that women who consumed high amounts of chocolate (45 grams or more) had a 20 per cent lower risk of stroke, compared to women who ate less. It's worth noting that the study's definition of "high" isn't that generous – women who ate around 66 grams of chocolate a week, around one or two average bars, saw the most benefits. A little goes a long way.
2. It protects your heart
2011 was great for chocoholics – another study that year associated high levels of chocolate consumption with a 37 per cent reduction in the risk of cardiovascular disease.
3. It can reduce blood pressure
Dark chocolate contains high levels of polyphenols, which are antioxidants with a whole host of health benefits. Studies have found that eating dark chocolate reduces blood pressure, whereas polyphenol-free white chocolate had no effect.
4. It's a diabetes shield
Insulin sensitivity is the body's natural defence against developing diabetes; if it drops, you'll have more trouble digesting carbs and be more susceptible to pre-diabetes. Dark chocolate can improve insulin sensitivity, thanks to the antioxidant properties of the flavanols it contains.
5. It's like natural aspirin
Chocolate is not a painkiller – unless you're talking about emotional wounds – but it does mimic other properties of aspirin. Specifically, cocoa acts as a blood-thinner which can prevent clots so efficiently that one study referenced its "aspirin-like effect".
6. It reduces stress
Highly stressed people were fed dark chocolate every day (40 grams, which is about the size of a standard bar) as part of a 2009 study and after two weeks, their levels of stress hormones were lowered. You should probably be eating a bar of chocolate a day.
7. It feeds your willpower
Researchers at the University of Copenhagen found that dark chocolate is much more satisfying and filling than its milk or white counterparts, which means it'll stem your cravings without tempting you to gorge. Think about it, when was the last time you binged on 70 per cent chocolate bars?
Via Harper's Bazaar UK