I hope I can make everyone's day a little brighter by giving you a few more reasons to love chocolate!
First, let me clarify about what I mean by chocolate. I am not talking about your cheap-o milk chocolate. I am talking about fabulous dark chocolate - preferably organic. If you haven't switched over to decadent dark chocolate yet, try it! I bet after a few tries, you will be converted.
Now, on to the good stuff.
Did you know that the flavonoids in chocolate are linked to a bunch of heart perks, including lowering blood pressure, reducing bad LDL cholesterol, and decreasing your overall risk for heart disease? Yup, yup, yup, it is true! Shoot for a couple squares of dark chocolate or a tablespoon of pure cocoa powder a day.
Let's pretend that after reading this article, you are about to go on a major chocolate binge, because you have heard the reasons it is good for you. Try saving yourself from the calories and fat by taking a deep whiff of cocoa instead. That rich, indulgent smell might just help you satisfy those cravings without any calories at all! Dr. Alan Hirsch, the founder of the Smell and Taste Treatment and Research Foundation, says that the scent may activate the same neurotransmitters in the brain that are stimulated when actually eating chocolate. Try it out!
I know we are kind of in the doldrums of winter, at least here in Michigan. Who needs a little mood boost? Well, a little cocoa can take care of that for you too! Cocoa powder contains more than 300 compounds, many of which have a positive effect on your brain chemistry. Some of those compounds boost your endorphin and serotonin levels, both of which generate a good mood. How does a homemade cup of hot chocolate sound? Be choosy about your cocoa powder. Look for raw, unprocessed, organic cocoa powder.
My last fun fact for you is about your skin. Dark chocolate is packed with antioxidants that help repair skin cells and neutralize free radicals, says dermatologist Ava Shamban. If you want a chocolatey mask that will do great things for your face, try this one:
In a bowl, combine
1 tbsp organic cocoa powder
1 tsp honey
1 tbsp ground oatmeal
2 tbsp full-fat plain yogurt
Massage it onto your clean skin. Leave it on for 10-15 minutes and rinse off. Enjoy!