As if you need another reason to eat chocolate! You probably already know that dark chocolate contains antioxidant-rich compounds known as flavonoids, which have been shown to improve heart health. Here are 4 more compelling studies that provide some excellent reasons to enjoy this popular sweet.
Reason 1: Dark chocolate can improve blood pressure and reduce the risk of developing diabetes.
The research: A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that eating dark chocolate reduced insulin resistance and significantly lowered blood pressure. Doctors don't know exactly how much dark chocolate you need to reap these health benefits, but if you’re following the South Beach Diet, it’s best not to overdo it. Starting on Phase 2, you can dip 4 to 5 strawberries in melted dark chocolate, or enjoy 1 or 2 dark chocolate squares (1 ounce each) as an occasional treat. Be sure to choose brands that contain at least 70% cacao and thus the least amount of sugar.
Reason 2: Dark chocolate may be an anti-inflammatory.
The research: A study in the Journal of Nutrition found that dark chocolate reduces inflammation. Among individuals participating in the study, it significantly lowered levels of C-reactive protein (CRP), a substance that is an indicator of inflammation in the body. Levels of CRP also help determine the risk for developing coronary artery disease.
Reason 3: Dark chocolate may reduce stress hormones.
The research: A Swiss study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology found that healthy men aged 20 to 50 who were given about 2 ounces of dark chocolate two hours before a mock job interview and a mental arithmetic test (which were conducted in front of an audience) did not have increases in the stress hormones cortisol and epinephrine..
Reason 4: Dark chocolate may keep you feeling fuller, longer.
The research: A University of Copenhagen study found that dark chocolate gives people more of a feeling of satiety than milk chocolate. Two and a half hours after eating either dark or milk chocolate in two separate sessions, the participants were instructed to eat as much pizza as they wanted until they felt comfortably full. As it turned out, the study participants’ calorie intake from the pizza was 15 percent lower on the day they ate the dark chocolate. And it gets better! The participants also stated that their cravings for sweet, salty, or fatty foods lessened. Remember: On the South Beach Diet we only recommend dark chocolate, not milk chocolate, beginning on Phase 2. And we don’t recommend eating all the pizza you want!