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You’ve gone and done it:  opened that box of chocolates that’s been lurking in your kitchen cabinet since, well, you really can’t remember when. There are dark chocolate squares. Milk chocolate rounds. And some with sprinkles, stippled frosting, and sweet sugary glaze.

As you weigh how many to have (and which ones to pass up) you recall reading once that chocolate is, indeed, good for you. Which means you can put aside any hesitancy or guilt about indulging your absolute, total, overpowering love of chocolate. Sweet!

Cholesterol

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A study published in The Journal of Nutrition suggests that consuming chocolate might help reduce low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol levels, often referred to as “bad cholesterol.”  The study’s authors concluded that “regular consumption of chocolate bars containing PS (plant sterols) and CF (cocoa flavanols), as part of a low-fat diet, may support cardiovascular health by lowering cholesterol and improving blood pressure.”

Cognitive Function

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Sip sip hooray!  Scientists at Harvard Medical School have suggested that drinking two cups of hot chocolate daily could help reduce memory decline in older people and keep the brain healthy. Researchers discovered that hot chocolate helped improve blood flow to the brain.

 

Stroke

In a study conducted by Canadian scientists, individuals who ate one serving of chocolate a day were 22 percent less likely to experience a stroke than those who didn’t each chocolate. Another study, published in the journal Heart, suggested that eating up to 100 grams (g) of chocolate per day could help lower the risk of heart disease and stroke.

Fetal Growth and Development

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Go ahead and indulge your sweet tooth while awaiting the arrival of your sweet baby. According to a study presented at the 2016 Pregnancy Meeting of the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine in Atlanta, GA, eating 30 g (about an ounce) of chocolate every day during pregnancy could benefit fetal development and growth.

Athletic Performance

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Here’s a good reason for chocolate to muscle its way into your diet: findings published in The Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition suggest that a small amount of dark chocolate could boost oxygen availability during fitness training. Dark chocolate contains flavonols knows as epicatechins, which enhance the release of nitric oxide in the body.