The benefits of eating dark chocolate

Chocolate is arguably one of the tastiest discoveries since the beginning of time. But, with new dietary guidelines by the United States government recommending that people limit their daily sugar intake to 10 percent of their total calories (according to this NPR report), this sweet-tooth favorite might start feeling even more like a guilty pleasure. 
Fortunately for chocolate lovers, all is not lost. If you switch to dark chocolate instead of milk chocolate you may be able to eliminate a little bit of that guilt. 
Dark chocolate contains antioxidants
According to Authority Nutrition, dark chocolate may offer some health benefits because the cocoa tree seed is a prime source of antioxidants. WebMD suggests skipping the milk when eating your treat as it can block your body from absorbing the healthy antioxidants in the chocolate.  
Dark chocolate may lower blood pressure
Researchers determined that individuals who ate dark chocolate showed an average drop of 5 points for systolic and 2 points for diastolic blood pressure. Individuals given white chocolate saw no benefit, according to WebMD. 
Researchers say that the darker the chocolate, the better the benefits. They attribute this to cocoa phenols in the chocolate, which are known to reduce blood pressure. If you're feeling a need to splurge, WebMD says that European chocolate typically has more cocoa phenols than American-made chocolate. 
Dark chocolate may control insulin levels
Some research suggests that consuming dark chocolate could prevent or delay the onset of diabetes and prediabetes, according to Scientific American.  Researchers discovered that the polyphenols in the dark chocolate improved sensitivity to insulin, even in people who did not have diabetes.  Keep in mind that dark chocolate is not a substitute for any medication, the article emphasizes. 
Dark chocolate offers brain-boosting benefits
If you are feeling a bit sluggish in the afternoon, consider grabbing a bit of dark chocolate. According to Authority Nutrition, dark chocolate can improve blood flow to the brain, making it easier to concentrate, improving verbal fluency and providing a natural stimulation similar to caffeine. 
While dark chocolate is considered a healthier alternative, make sure to eat it in moderation to avoid negating the benefits by consuming too many calories, advises WebMD. 
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