The first bit of good news, as it's Easter, is that there's likely to be plenty of chocolate within easy reach. The further good news is that there are a handful of health-related arguments for eating (more) chocolate.
It's nice to know that a little square of good-quality dark choccy here and there not only lifts our mood, but has a range of other benefits, too. That's right, chocolate is healthy (within reason, and the darker the better). Here are some scientifically* established health benefits of good quality dark chocolate.
Mood booster: Chocolate contains phenylethylamine, which is the same chemical that your brain generates when you feel like you’re falling in love; thus encouraging your brain to release feel-good endorphins to help you celebrate Easter. Or, for that matter, any time you fancy a little boost of happiness.
Vascular health: Chocolate contains polyphenols that improve your circulation. It also helps release nitric oxide to lower blood pressure. See more Top Foods for Vascular Health
Mineral rich: Dark chocolate is packed with beneficial minerals such as potassium, zinc and selenium, and a 100g bar of dark (70 percent or more) chocolate provides 67 percent of the recommended daily intake of iron.
Reduces cholesterol: Consumption of cocoa has been shown to reduce levels of “bad” cholesterol and raise levels of “good” cholesterol, potentially lowering the risk of cardiovascular disease.
Good for your skin and brain: The flavonols in dark chocolate can protect the skin against sun damage (though nobody suggests abandoning sun cream). Flavanols are also thought to reduce memory loss in older people, and the anti-inflammatory qualities of dark chocolate have been found to be beneficial in treating brain injuries such as concussion.
* Note: most scientific studies are sponsored by 'Big Chocolate'. But let's just think about the positives and enjoy a bit of naughtiness.