Need a stocking stuffer idea? Go with dark chocolate. Thanks to an abundance of research on dark chocolate’s health benefits, you can give—and enjoy—this treat in good conscience. More than 3,000 scientific papers published on chocolate reveal that flavonoids in cocoa relax arteries, lower blood pressure, improve insulin sensitivity, curb inflammation, and protect against heart disease and cancer.
Perhaps equally important, especially at this time of year, cocoa (the primary ingredient in chocolate) contains compounds that relieve stress, stimulate fat burning, suppress appetite, and boost your mood and overall sense of well-being.
In one study, Swiss and German researchers found that when individuals with “high anxiety traits” ate 40 g (1.4 ounces) of dark chocolate every day for two weeks, they had reduced excretion of stress hormones. Compounds in chocolate stimulate the release of endorphins, serotonin, phenylethylamine, and other neurotransmitters that simply make you feel better.
Other components such as theobromine relax the nervous system and increase alertness. And the caffeine it contains partly explains why dark chocolate can help promote fat burning and suppress your appetite.
WATCH: Discover why dark chocolate helps with weight loss, blood pressure and more
For maximum health benefits, stick with dark chocolate, which contains more protective flavonoids and less sugar, and eat it in moderation. Happy holidays!
Now it’s your turn: Do you have any other ideas for healthy stocking stuffers?