7 Reasons You Can Feel Good about Eating Chocolate Today

By , SparkPeople Editorial Director
Chances are good that you'll encounter chocolate at some point today. Chocolate has earned a bad rap as a guilty pleasure, but this superfood has some pretty amazing health benefits. We think you should feel good about eating chocolate--the dark variety, in moderate portions. Here's why:

1. Chocolate contains more than 300 chemicals, including phenyethylamine, an amphetamine-like substance that simulates the feeling of falling in love. Is there any more appropriate day than today to eat a treat that makes you feel like you're in love?

2. If you're feeling a bit glum, chocolate can boost your spirits and dull your pain, thanks to b-endorphin, a naturally occurring chemical similar to opium.

3. That dark chocolate morsel is protecting your heart, too. Polyphenols, which are among the antioxidants found in chocolate, have been linked to a decreased risk of coronary heart disease--the #1 killer in America.

4. The flavonoids in dark chocolate may have a positive effect on blood pressure and insulin resistance.

5. Chocolate will not give you pimples. (Neither will fries, but they lack the health benefits of chocolate.) Dermatologists have debunked the myth that diet causes acne, so you can chomp on chocolate without putting your complexion at risk.

6. Deprivation backfires. Studies have found that if you put certain foods off limits, you're more likely to crave them (and potentially binge on them) later on. Eat a moderate portion of chocolate to avoid overdoing it.

7. Dark chocolate can help your cholesterol levels. A study found that choosing a moderate portion of chocolate over a carb-rich snack increased HDL (good) cholesterol levels.

More reading about this sweet treat:
Be Choosy about Chocolate
Chocolate: A Not-So-Guilty Pleasure
7 Myths and Facts about Chocolate

What is your best reason to eat chocolate? Do you prefer milk or dark?

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Oh Goodie!!! Report
dark chocolate please, the darkest the better. Report
I melt my dark chocolate down and add almond and oatmeal to make a cookie out of it. Very feeling and curbs my appetite. Report
I love dark chocolate, and my family doesn't...so I don't have to worry about them "stealing" my healthier choices. Thank you for this info, I've been trying to tell my friends this and they don't believe me-now I have the proof!! Report
I've also gone over "to the dark side" and stepped up the quality as well. I use the "melt in your mouth" method (which is mindful eating at work.) Works for me as I'm satisfied after just a couple of pieces. Report
I've gone over to the Dark Side! =)
Used to love milk - but now it's dark all the way - I enjoy a chocolate tea - it's like the best of both worlds for me! Report
As a chocolatier, I appreciate this article! Do yourselves (and a small business) a favor and indulge in high quality chocolate confections made by your local chocolatier. Yes, they cost a little more, but the indulgence is worth it. You will get oodles more satisfaction from a well-made bon bon or some high quality chocolate than any of that garbage they sell at the convenience store. :) Report
I didn't eat sweets too much till I started on this diet. Now I want something sweet all the time. That is weird. Wonder why that is Report
Oh the way I used to crave it so much... I don't anymore! No secret, no hard work getting the craving off.. it gradually disappeared! jealous ladies? Report
Bring It!!! I'll take mine with a glass of red wine - might as well help the heart too. Report
I absolutely love chocolate! I have to remind myself, "self control!" I recently bought raw cocoa powder and put it in my shakes. It's so good!! and good for you too!! Report
so good and yet so bad... Report
I'm also a dark chocolate fan! Glad to know there are benefits as long as it's in moderation. Report
I LOVE dark chocolate. Milk chocolate with bacon???? Well don't knock it till you try it is what I say...LOL Report
Dark chocolate with pecans or almonds. Milk chocolate with bacon. Report
I have always been a dark chocolate lover. Started reading this and ran to eat 6 chips. YUM Report
I'm not a chocolate lover... But, everytime I see a cherry or a dry fruit cover with it, I wanted.. That one is my guilty pleasure ..
This is my first post and my third day with spark peole, I'm just reading "The Spark" ... Report
I love the dark chocolate over the milk chocolate by far! Report
I like both dark and milk chocolate but my favorite addiction is to snack-sized mounds - rich, succulent dark chocolate covering gooey coconut ...yummy Report
I make my own (thank you, SP!) - peanut butter cocoa oatmeal squares. I esata one first thing and one last thing - and lost a kilo last week! Report
Dark chocolate! Report
Dark, dark, dark. My indulgence these days is often a piece of dark chocolate infused with chili, made by Lindt. I love it so much, I usually reach for a piece, and then decide to save it for when I really need it. I've become a chocolate hoarder! Report
My new guilty pleasure is dark chocolate acai with blueberry! Yummy and good for me too! Report
I'm a chocoholic for dark chocolate. 2 small pieces of dark chocolate EVERY night is my delight! Report
Yummy! I LOVE chocolate!! Especially milk. White is good too but definitely not dark! lol Report
I prefer milk chocolate...I know I need to eat more dark. Report

The key for me to treats like chocolate is quality over quantity. I have a little bit of very high-quality chocolate on a fairly regular basis and really savor it. (Rather than indulging in a lot of cheap chocolate daily, and barely noticing it.) I do the same for most treats, and what I've noticed is that I actually get more out of eating less when I follow that rule. I refuse to waste my calories on low-quality junk (or even good quality things that are simply not my favorites), but I do occasionally let myself savor something I *really* enjoy. It makes it a lot easier to pass by a candy dish or box of donuts in the office when I know I can have something later that will satisfy me much more.

@MARDGY -- I used to prefer milk chocolate too, for the same reason, but now prefer dark. I worked my way up to darker (and less sweet) chocolate slowly, and eventually trained myself to like it better. (Though I still can't do the super-dark stuff my husband loves.) Report
Thanks for this great article. I am a serious chocolate addict. I have only recently began eating dark chocolate and find that I love it and I no longer enjoy milk chocolate as much as I did before. ;-)
Happy Valentine's Day everyone. Report
It does my 'heart' good to read this article and give myself permission to have chocolate. Dark chocolate is my favorite. Thanks. Report
I love knowing there are healthy aspects to something so good. Report
Yeah, my DH bought dark chocolate truffles for V-day! Report
I knew chocolate was good for me. I keep candy kisses on hand. Just one melting in my mouth satisfies my sweet tooth. Report
Unfortunately, I prefer the milk chocolate to the dark one because of my sweet tooth. Report