Happy Valentines Day, Every Day! The Benefits of Chocolate

There is no need to wait until Cupid arrives before you can enjoy your sweet treats this year, with research showing some chocolate has many benefits to your health and well-being. Not only does chocolate come in heart shaped boxes, it also provides antioxidants that improve our heart function and cardiovascular system. In fact, by having a small square of dark chocolate daily, we can reduce the risk of a heart attack and stroke by 39% – making every day the perfect Valentine’s Day!

In its most natural form, chocolate contains high amounts of cocoa. Rich in antioxidants known as Flavonoids, cocoa can lower blood pressure and reduce blood clotting by increasing the flexibility of veins and arteries. If you need any more reason to give in to your cravings, chocolate – particularly dark chocolate – contains serotonin, which is a natural anti-depressant. The serotonin in chocolate is often the reason why people crave chocolate when they are feeling unhappy or upset. Chocolate stimulates endorphin productions which release the feeling of happiness and pleasure.

Chocolate can have very positive benefits for both mind and body, but not so fast! To maximize these health benefits, it is important to think in moderation. To maximize these health benefits, buy dark chocolate that has minimal products added to it, as additional milk, refined sugar and additives will only reduce the amount of antioxidants, and add empty calories. Eating chocolate that has minimal preservatives will ensure you don’t over-indulge, as it can be quite rich and therefore can satisfy the taste buds with a smaller amount.

If you want to make every day your Valentine’s Day, here are some easy tips to follow to ensure your body is receiving the benefits from your sweet treats.

Eat dark chocolate – Dark chocolate contains higher amount of cocoa and therefore higher amounts of antioxidants. Try chocolate with 70% cocoa or higher to get the most benefits.

Portion control – Consume a small amount daily, or a few times a week and try to avoid over indulging.

Take time to taste – Let’s face it, we buy chocolate for it’s glorious taste. Make sure you take your time and enjoy enjoy the flavours in the chocolate.

Buy small bars instead of blocks – To avoid indulging in the whole block buy smaller bars so you are not tempted to over eat.

Avoid sugary additives and fillings – To get the most benefits out of chocolate it is important to have it with minimal or no additives. By adding sugary products you risk having negative health effects and losing the antioxidants.

Keep active – Exercise and chocolate make a dynamic duo!

Chocolate no longer needs to be a junk food or a treat you save for special occasions. Consume in the right way and your mind, body and taste buds will reap the benefits – so, the next time you get that craving pick up a piece and enjoy!