Monday, February 13, 2012

Chocolate Benefits

It’s February. February means Valentine’s Day and Valentine’s Day means chocolate – lots of chocolate. If you’re like everyone else you’ve spent the holidays enjoying chocolate covered nuts, dipped fruits, gourmet chocolates, cakes, cookies, truffles, turtles and now hearts. And while this chocolate indulgence may not have done your waistline any favors, it surprisingly may have benefited your skin.

It turns out that dark chocolate has numerous health benefits. It lowers a person’s risk of heart attack and cancer, improves mood, and has a positive effect on bad cholesterol. Cocoa, it turns out, contains more antioxidants per cup than red wine or green tea. These antioxidants called flavanols promote healthy cellular tissue and increase blood flow to the skin resulting in improved texture and better hydration. Researchers have even found that subjects who regularly consumed at least 20 grams (about the size of one bar) daily were better protected from exposure to UV light.

I’m not giving anyone a license to replace healthy food choices with chocolate or to stop wearing sun screen. Of course, chocolate is high in calories and saturated fat so as always moderation is the key. Just remember the next time you think that chocolate is just a guilty pleasure, you’re helping your body maintain collagen and fight against sun damage.

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