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The Benefits of Chocolate

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For any of you who find pleasure in the occasional (or consistent) smoke, chances are cigars aren't your only vice. Lurking in the dark alleys of your indulgences may sit other things: alcohol, coffee, pizza with extra cheese, or even chocolate.

Now, if you fancy yourself as a serious cigar smoker, you may think that chocolate isn't as luxurious or sophisticated as a nice smooth Churchill: after all, chocolate does melt in your hands… and all over your clothes. If you are a male smoker, you may think of chocolate as a "chick's food," believing that the "her" in Hershey's speaks volumes from your standpoint. And, if you're the type who prefers to get your cocoa flavors from a cigar, you may believe that there's no point in having a Nestle Crunch, when you can have a Monte Cristo.

While all of you may have valuable points, chocolate has one as well: it's not only good for your taste buds but may also be good for your health. Yes, this is the news schoolchildren have prayed for all their lives.

When it comes to health, dark chocolate seems to be the sweeter of the deals: it has the potential to do the most good. This is because it contains a lot of cocoa, which is a great source of flavonoids (metabolites that may induce processes that fight cancer), and epicatechin (metabolites that help reduce the risk of heart attack, cancer, diabetes, and stroke). Dark chocolate is also high in antioxidants, which, plainly put, are the best friends of human health.

All of these ingredients work together to produce a food that is – both literally and figuratively – good for your soul. A person who eats a moderate amount of chocolate may find a reduction in blood pressure, and a decrease in heart attack risk. While the jury is still out on whether or not dark chocolate can lower LDL cholesterol, researchers agree that, at the very least, it won't raise it. This is due to the fact that the majority of the fat in chocolate comes from stearic acid, an acid that does not add to cholesterol levels.

The health benefits of chocolate not only have the potential to make you feel better about eating it, but they also have the potential to make you feel better from your mood's point of view. Consuming chocolate helps your brain release serotonin, which creates a sense of contentment. For this reason, chocolate has gotten the well-deserved label of a "comfort food."

Still, health benefits aside, it must also be pointed out that chocolate does have some qualities that won't benefit your health, the biggest being calories. In order to keep the calories from turning to fat – and creating a slug of other health problems – they must be accounted for. In other words, if you start to eat more chocolate, eat less of something else.

Chocolate has just recently been identified as something that can benefit you on a health level. But this isn't to say that will always prove true. Look, for instance, at the egg. First researchers said that eggs were good for us, then they were bad for us, then they came before… no wait, after the chicken.

For the time being, chocolate appears to be wrapped up in helping human health, allowing those of us who love chocolate to milk these new findings for all that they're worth.

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About Jenn Jordan