It's 3 p.m. and you're stuck at work - just about ready to pass out on your desk. You've had a long morning and afternoon of meetings and projects, and chances are you could use a pick-me-up. Too bad, though - the coffee machine is out of your favorite flavor and you have no diet sodas on hand.
Don't feel bad about reaching into your desk for those chocolate truffles. They actually come with a number of health benefits that you can use to your advantage. You'll never have to feel bad about indulging again once you take a look at these handy findings.
1. Dark chocolate is good for you. According to WebMD, it's dark chocolate, not milk or white, that you should use to satisfy your cravings.
2. You could lower mild high blood pressure by eating more dark chocolate. Just be sure to balance the extra calories by eating less of your other favorite foods. This doesn't mean substituting chocolate for nutritious foods like fruits and vegetables - you still need those!
3. Dark chocolate has potent antioxidants, which help your body fight free-radicals that cause advanced aging, heart disease and other ailments. Just don't wash down your chocolate with a glass of milk, as researchers believe it could interfere with the antioxidant absorption, effectively negating the benefits.
4. Chocolate is a natural anti-depressant. It contains serotonin and stimulates endorphin production, both of which create feelings of pleasure and reduce anxiety. If you're feeling blue, don't hesitate to buy a small chocolate gift for yourself. You deserve it.
5. Chocolate can promote your blood flow, much like aspirin. By reducing your blood's ability to clot, you'll be reducing your risk of stroke and heart attack.
6. Need an energy lift? Chocolate can do that with its theobromine, caffeine, tyramine and phenylethylamine, all of which work to give your body a boost. While there's considerably less caffeine in chocolate than in coffee, it's still there.
7. Tryptophan, which is found in chocolate, is an essential amino acid that can lessen anxiety and reduce sensitivity to pain. No wonder women crave chocolate at that time of the month - it can help alleviate painful cramps.
8. Chocolate can give you a bit of a natural high. Much like the cannabinoids in marijuana, the anandamides in chocolate bind to the same brain receptors, giving you feelings of relaxation.
As long as you limit your indulgences and don't go overboard, eating dark chocolate a couple of times a week can give you plenty of mood and health benefits. This is all the more reason to break out those chocolate strawberries.