There is a big misconception when it comes to chocolate. In most diet’s it has been said that you should stay away from chocolate and limit your intake. There has been a lot of research done and the results will actually surprise you. Chocolate is not bad for your body as most people believe. Of course if you eat nothing but Snickers bars or Butterfingers all day, you will most likely gain unwanted weight and this type of chocolate is not so good for you. Refined milk chocolate candy bars filled with processed butter and caramel are probably not good for you on a regular basis, especially if you are working out and trying to reduce fat in your body. Dark chocolate as everyone knows is better for you than refined milk chocolate. And eating this as part of your regular diet even if you are working out or bodybuilding can have big benefits.

So what are the benefits of eating chocolate?

Eating a regular amount of dark chocolate of 80% Cacao or higher can boost stamina and also help blood flow throughout the body. A recent study showed that eating a small amount of dark chocolate a few times a week, helped lower blood pressure and improve blood flow. With this information in mind this could also mean that with increased blood flow, the possibility of getting blood clots in the body lessens as well as the possibility of preventing hardening of the arteries or arteriosclerosis. If dark chocolate can do all this then of course your bad cholesterol levels would be much lower.

If you are exercising then that additional blood flow is going to help your muscles in a big way. The more blood you have delivered to the muscles you are working on will result in better performance during exercise and faster recovery. A research study showed that cyclists that ate dark chocolate as part of their regular diet two weeks before a heavy ride or workout burned more calories and produced more free radicals in their bodies.

Dark chocolate contains several chemical compounds that can have a positive effect on your mood and your health. Chocolate contains the chemical phenylethylamine or PEA. This is the chemical that the brain creates when you feel like you are in love. Phenylethylamine helps your brain release endorphins and therefore making you feel much happier.

Dark chocolate also naturally contains caffeine but the amount is much lower than a cup of coffee. One and a half ounces of dark chocolate only contains 30mg’s of caffeine as compared to 200mg’s that are in a cup of coffee. Chocolate is also full of antioxidants that can help free your body of free radicals that can damage cells and cause faster aging.

Chocolate is also high in vitamins and minerals. Yes you read that right. Dark chocolate in fact contains potassium, copper, magnesium, and iron.

So with all these benefits in mind, don’t be afraid to pick up that chocolate bar when you feel a craving. And as with any changes in diet and exercise, always consult a nutritionist or a physician.

As always, before making drastic changes in your diet, you should consult a physician and or a nutritionist to learn more and make sure what you are doing is healthy and right for your body. Jillian Panzella is a nutritionist and nutrition consultant in NYC and is also a specialist in Weight Loss for Women, Pregnancy Nutrition, and natural weight loss. Contact Jillian today to see how she can help you.