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5 health benefits of eating dark chocolate

Yes, chocolate can be part of a healthy diet. Here are some good reasons to indulge today.
Rustic homemade dark chocolate
Cacao beans contain protein, fiber and are a great source of minerals like iron and magnesium. Getty Images stock
/ Source: TODAY

It's World Chocolate Day! Now that's a holiday we can all get behind. Who doesn't love chocolate?

As a nutritionist, I'm happy to tell you this sweet treat can be part of a healthy diet — in moderation, of course. Too much of anything can certainly outweigh the benefits, but there are a few good reasons to support your chocolate habit.

Fortunately, there has been quite a bit of tried and true evidence suggesting the benefits of chocolate when you choose a type that is at least 70% cacao, and incorporate it into a healthy lifestyle. You. Are. Welcome.

Here are a few of the many reasons to celebrate today with a few pieces of dark chocolate:

It may relieve stress

In addition to stress-managing tools like meditation and exercise, eating a healthy diet has been linked to stress-relief — and yes, that includes dark chocolate. The sweet treat contributes to producing the feel-good hormone serotonin and contains magnesium, which is linked to reducing anxiety.

Dark chocolate can help reduce inflammation

Cacao beans contain protein, fiber and are a great source of minerals like iron and magnesium. They’re also rich in powerful antioxidants, particularly flavonoids like catechin, epicatechin and procyanidins. These are your body’s protectors against “bad guy” free radicals. Antioxidants combat damage caused by free radicals that contributes to aging, heart disease, cancer, Alzheimer’s and other diseases.

It could help manage blood-sugar levels

Some studies have suggested chocolate can reduce insulin resistance, and its healthy fats also slow down the absorption of sugar into the bloodstream, preventing sugar spikes.

Chocolate may support your heart health

Studies like this one have shown an association between eating chocolate and a lower risk of heart disease.

It satisfies your sweet tooth — the healthy way

A life without desserts? Not in my book. A square of dark chocolate can be a great way to satisfy a sweet tooth while reaping the benefits of dark chocolate. If you’re ready to get baking, these walnut chia thumbprint cookies are an excellent post-dinner treat, and yes, I’ve even been known to add a few dark chocolate chunks to my peanut butter oatmeal.