dark chocolate health benefitsNew research shows that there are more reasons than ever to NOT avoid or deny your chocolate cravings all year long.

Studies undergone in Italy reveal that dark chocolate has many of the same benefits as vitamin C and help the body to use insulin more effectively and also lower blood pressure.

The research examined two out of three chocolate varieties, dark chocolate and white chocolate. Dark chocolate is made up of cocoa solids and sugar but no milk solids (prevalent in milk chocolate) and white chocolate, although referred to as chocolate had no cocoa solids, but instead is made of cocoa butter (the fat in chocolate), milk solids and sugar.

According to the study, participants who enjoyed 100 grams of dark chocolate daily for 15 days had reduced blood pressure and become more sensitive to insulin than they were prior to the “experiment”.

Researchers believe that the benefits of dark chocolate are because of the flavonoids it contains, which are associated with the ability to lower the risk of heart disease and some cancers. However, white chocolate exhibited no effect on patients since it is free of cocoa solids, where the flavonoids are found.

So what does this mean for you and me? Is it time to replace the celery and carrot platters with chocolate samplers and related goodies? Is it time to switch from “an apple a day” to “a chocolate bar a day”? The answer to this is probably a big “no”. Nonetheless, knowing this little tidbit and what other discoveries it may lead to in the future sure won’t inhibit a healthy person from treating themselves to the oh-so-desirable rich goodness of a nice piece of dark chocolate on the odd occasion.