Milk Chocolate Day is a day to celebrate simply because it is an excuse to celebrate with treats of chocolate! If we told you, however, that milk chocolate has more than a dozen benefits to your body and mind, you would be sure to keep a daily serving close.

dsc_3246_610x610aHere’s our 12 favorite benefits of milk chocolate:

LOWERS RISK OF HEART DISEASE AND STROKES

Huffington Post reported scientists reported in the journal Heart, that eating up to 3.5 ounces (100 grams) of chocolate daily is linked with lowered risks of heart disease and stroke. That amount of chocolate is equal to about 22 Hershey’s Kisses, two Hershey bars or two bags of M&M’s, depending on how you want to divvy up this good news.

People who ate chocolate regularly had up to an 11 percent lower risk of developing cardiovascular disease and a 23 percent lower risk of having a stroke, compared with non-chocolate eaters. (Yes, remarkably, they exist.)

BOOSTS BRAIN FUNCTION

Chocolate can help boost your concentration and alertness. A 2013 study, published in the journal Neurology, found that those who drank two cups of hot cocoa a day for 30 days had an 8 per cent increase in blood flow to the brain, noticeably improving cognitive activity.

SLOWS SIGNS OF AGING

Chocolate is rich in antioxidants called polyphenols, which, like flavonoids, rid the body of free radicals, a primary cause of age-related arthritis. Eating up to 12 squares of chocolate every 24 hours can help alleviate the pain caused by inflammation of the joints. Not only that, but a 1998 Harvard study of 8,000 people found that those who ate chocolate three or more times a month lived for almost a year longer than those who didn’t.

FIGHTS COLDS

One study, published in the British Journal of Cancer in 2009, found that phenolics, another naturally occurring antioxidant found in chocolate, boosted the immune system. The presence of epicatechin also activates the body’s natural detoxification process, helping to rid us of coughs and colds.

FIGHTS TOOTH DECAY

Contrary to what might be expected, chocolate is actually good for your teeth. In 2007, American scientists found that theobromine, the stimulant compound found in chocolate, hardens tooth enamel more effectively than fluoride. This protects teeth against erosion by acids.

LOWERS BLOOD PRESSURE

A study of the Kuna Indians, a tribe living off the coast of Panama, in 2009 found that they had extremely low blood pressure. Their secret? Drinking five cups of dark chocolate a day.

REDUCES STRESS

Stress can be caused by the improper function of the pituitary gland, a pea-sized organ in the base of the brain. Chocolate keeps this gland supplied with magnesium, which helps it function properly and lowers the production of cortisol, known as the ‘stress hormone’. It also stimulates the production of serotonin — the ‘happiness hormone’ — in the brain.

MAKES US SMARTER

One of the flavonoids found in chocolate, called procyanidin, is a natural preventative of oxidation and inflammation in the brain — both of which impair cognitive function. In 2009, U.S. researchers found that eating 85g of milk chocolate improved participants’ scores in a series of memory, problem-solving and attention span tests. The results are thought to be due to chocolate’s antioxidant properties.

KEEPS US SLIM

Perhaps most surprising of all, it has been shown that chocolate can increase the metabolism, helping even avid chocoholics to stay trim. A 2012 study of 1,000 adults by the University of California found those who ate chocolate frequently, up to twice a week, had a lower body mass index (BMI) than those who didn’t. But author Dr Beatrice Golomb warned that the study shouldn’t be seen as a licence to gorge: the low BMI was linked to the regularity of chocolate consumption, not the amount.

MAKES US BEAUTIFUL

Chocolate and cocoa-based products are frequently used in beauty items, from creams and balms to waxes. Its nourishing effect is due to antioxidants, which reduce the skin damage that can be caused by sun, pollution and alcohol.

Raw cocoa powder is used as an ingredient in many facial treatments. Tests have shown it to hydrate the skin, ward off blemishes and increase the activity of natural collagen, which leaves cheeks youthfully plump and skin dewy. Eating it, too, can be good for the skin — a 2009 study in the Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology found that nibbling 20g a week can minimize wrinkles caused by UV light.

IMPROVES FITNESS

In 2011, scientists from Detroit showed that epicatechin, found in dark chocolate, stimulated muscle growth in a similar way to jogging.

In tests on mice, they discovered that it produced more mitochondria — the tiny engines that power our cells — and increased the number of capillaries, which transport oxygen to the muscles. When the mice ate small doses alongside regular exercise, their athletic performance soared by 50 per cent. In humans eating around 50g of chocolate a day, a 7 per cent increase in hand grip strength was found.

MAKES US EUPHORIC

The Romans were convinced it was an aphrodisiac and, although chocolate’s love-inducing qualities have never been proven, it is thought the mood-boosting chemical phenylethylamine releases hormones that trigger feelings of euphoria. A 2006 study in the Journal of Sexual Medicine also found that women who ate chocolate daily had higher libidos. ‘Chocolate causes blood vessels to dilate, which also happens when you’re attracted to someone,’ says Jennifer Earle.

You can read more about the above 11 benefits, and find others, here.

So with all this good news, we invite you to our store to sample our fine chocolates and discover which ones will start your body to a healthier, more beautiful, way.