How do I love thee? Let me count the ways. I love thee to the depth and breadth and height …
Okay, so chocolate probably wasn’t what Elizabeth Barrett Browning had in mind when she wrote Sonnet 42, but I know a few chocoholics who would disagree. Just the thought of biting into rich and creamy dark chocolate gets most of us salivating and feeling decidedly happier, which in fact is a thing – yes, a study in 1996 showed that chocolate causes a release of endorphins (one of the ‘happy hormones’) in the brain, so you’re not imagining it, chocolate really does make you feel happier.
There are a number of other health benefits too, but there’s a ‘but’ – it has to be really great quality dark chocolate with a high cocoa content, not the sugar-laden candy bars lining the majority of checkout counters.
If you opt for the real thing, here, courtesy of Healthline, are 7 benefits:
1. It’s nutritious – quality dark chocolate is rich in fibre, iron, magnesium, copper, manganese and a few other minerals.
2. It’s a powerful source of antioxidants – cocoa and dark chocolate have a wide variety of powerful antioxidants, in fact, they have way more than most other foods.
3. It may improve blood flow and lower blood pressure – the bioactive compounds in cocoa may improve blood flow in the arteries and cause a small but statistically significant decrease in blood pressure.
4. It positively affects cholesterol levels – dark chocolate improves several important risk factors for disease, it lowers the susceptibility of LDL to oxidative damage while increasing HDL and improving insulin sensitivity.
5. It may reduce heart disease risk – observational studies show a drastic reduction in heart disease risk among those who consume the most chocolate.
6. It may protect your skin from the sun – studies show that the flavanols from cocoa can improve blood flow to the skin and protect it from sun damage.
7. It could improve brain function – cocoa or dark chocolate may improve brain function by increasing blood flow, it also contains stimulants like caffeine and theobromine.
And there you have it – all the many reasons why it’s okay to love chocolate!
So, while we may be in the Gauteng and Western Cape wholesale meat business, on this World Chocolate Day, all the chocoholics amongst us are going to enjoy their dark chocolate guilt-free, because as Oscar Wilde said ‘the only way to get rid of temptation is to yield to it!’