With Valentine’s Day right around the corner, it seems like everywhere we look there’s another decadent box of chocolates trying to lure us in from a grocery store shelf. From tasty truffles to sinful chocolate hearts, temptation is in full force. But before you swear off supermarkets until after V Day, we have news you’ll want to hear: Chocolate might not actually be as sinful as we thought. In fact, eating our favorite dessert could actually give us the same chemical effects as falling in love.
According to one CNN health report, "Chocolate can make our brains happy in the same way that many prescription drugs do, just in a less powerful and much more natural way." Chocolate also contains phenylethylamine — which is more commonly known as the “love drug,” because it’s one of the natural stimulants our brains release when we’re in love. No wonder we’ve been so smitten with Hershey kisses all these years!
Besides making our brains chemically happy, chocolate (particularly dark chocolate) may also have some other surprising health benefits. In fact, here are six more reasons to have more chocolate in your life.
Helps with memory
Lowers blood pressure
While the effects are usually mild, there have been several controlled trials showing that cocoa and dark chocolate can improve blood flow and lower blood pressure.
Good for your heart
According to a report in Women's Health, chocolate could help improve your heart function. The finding comes from a nine-year study in Sweden of more than 31,000. Those who ate one or two servings of dark chocolate each week cut their risk for heart failure by as much as a third.
Lessens cravings for fatty foods
According to another Women's Health article, eating chocolate can help fight sugar spikes. In one study from Italy's University of L'Aquila, people who ate a candy bar's worth of dark chocolate once a day for 15 days in a row decreased their potential for insulin resistance by almost 50 percent.
Happy, healthy babies
One study conducted at Yale found that chocolate intake during pregnancy reduced the risk of preeclampsia by up to 70 percent. Meanwhile, a Finnish study of more than 300 mothers found that when comparing moms who ate chocolate daily versus those who avoided it completely during their pregnancies, “the chocolate lovers’ babies were less frustrated, more easily soothed, and less fearful."