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National Chocolate Day: Convincing Health Reasons You Should Eat More of the Stuff

Just about everybody loves chocolate, so a reason for indulging in this wonderful cocoa treat is always welcome. That’s why, on National Chocolate Day, The Telegraph offered up 10 research-backed health reasons for eating more.

From heart health to brain health to a variety of mineral-rich pluses, scientists are finding that not only does chocolate give you a feel-good lift, but it can actually contribute to an all-over good health plan. For example, besides certain heart health benefits, it has neuroprotective benefits that may protect your brain after a stroke. It also has anti-thrombotic and anti-inflammatory benefits.

And, as you may already believe, but scientists have now proved, it also helps reduce stress hormones and other stress-related biochemical changes that are the root of anxiety and other emotional problems.

The important thing to remember is that not all chocolate is created equal: When we’re talking about healthy chocolate, it’s the cacao in it that’s good for you, NOT the traditional sugar-laden milk chocolate that so many naturally reach for.

So, when selecting chocolate, look for higher cacao and lower sugar content. In general, the darker the chocolate, the higher the cacao content. (Since cacao is naturally bitter, you do want some sweetness in there, just not high saturations of it.) Therefore, for health benefits, choose chocolate with a cacao percentage of about 70 or higher.

The only down side is this isn’t an excuse to gorge on chocolate: Studies have shown that just 6.7 grams of dark chocolate per day — a bit less than half a bar a week — represents the ideal amount for a protective effect against inflammation and cardiovascular disease. Any more than that may cancel out the benefits.