With Easter around the corner, it’s a relief to know that there are a few health benefits of chocolate…

Did you know that dark chocolate, containing at least 60% cocoa solids, is known to protect the heart?

While it’s no excuse to pig out, it’s good to know that there are proven health benefits associated with eating chocolate.

Here are a few more amazing reasons to enjoy a guilt-free treat:

1. Chocolate stabilises sugar levels

Brigham Young University researchers found that certain compounds in cocoa help your body release more insulin and respond to increased blood glucose better. The researchers recommend sources of cocoa that are low in sugar.

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2. Chocolate boosts your brain

Cocoa is a rich source of flavanols, natural compounds that have neuroprotective effects.

In other words, it works wonders for the brain.

In fact, research has found that relatively long-term daily cocoa flavanols consumption (ranging from five days up to three months) greatly improved attention, processing speed, working memory and verbal fluency.

3. Chocolate helps you slim down

It sounds counterintuitive, but eating chocolate could be good for your waistline.

A study by the University of California found that people who regularly enjoy chocolate are slimmer than those who don’t.

Not only found regular chocolate eaters slimmer, they did not eat fewer total calories a day or exercise more than those who consumed less chocolate.

Related: The skinny on chocolate

4. Chocolate helps you beat sleep deprivation

No wonder chocolate is what we crave when we’re tired.

Of course, there is no replacement for a good night’s sleep, but research has found that consuming cocoa counteracts the cognitive impairment linked to a lack of sleep in women.

5. Chocolate takes a bite out of stress

Feeling frazzled? Chocolate could be the perfect daily prescription.

Research by the American Chemical Society found that eating just 40 grams of dark chocolate a day for two weeks reduces stress hormones significantly.

Sources: Brigham Young UniversityFrontiersChocolate every day keeps the doctor away, University of California, San Diego Health Sciences and 3 Guilt-free reasons to enjoy chocolate

While All4Women endeavours to ensure health articles are based on scientific research, health articles should not be considered as a replacement for professional medical advice. Should you have concerns related to this content, it is advised that you discuss them with your personal healthcare provider.