1. It lowers your stroke risk
A 2011 Swedish study found that women who consumed high amounts of chocolate (45 grams or more) had a 20% lower risk of stroke, compared to women who ate less. It's worth noting that the study's definition of "high" isn't that generous—women who ate around 66g of chocolate a week, or 1-2 average bars, saw the most benefits. So a little goes a long way.
2. It protects your heart
2011 was a great year to be a chocoholic—another study that year associated high levels of chocolate consumption with a 37% reduction in cardiovascular disease risk.
3. It can reduce blood pressure
Dark chocolate contains high levels of polyphenols—aka antioxidants with a whole host of health benefits. Studies have found that eating dark chocolate reduces blood pressure, whereas polyphenol-free white chocolate had no effect on BP.
4. It's a diabetes shield
Insulin sensitivity is the body's natural defense against developing diabetes—if your insulin sensitivity drops, you'll have more trouble digesting carbs and be more susceptible to pre-diabetes. Dark chocolate can improve insulin sensitivity, thanks to the antioxidant properties of the flavanols it contains.
5. It's like natural aspirin
Just to be clear, chocolate isn't a painkiller—unless you're talking about emotional wounds—but it does mimic other properties of aspirin. Specifically, cocoa acts as a blood-thinner which can prevent clots so efficiently that one study called it "an aspirin-like effect".
6. It reduces stress
Highly stressed people were fed dark chocolate every day (40g, about the size of a standard bar) as part of a 2009 study, and after two weeks their levels of stress hormones were lowered. So yeah, you should probably be eating a bar of chocolate a day.
7. It feeds your willpower
Researchers at the University of Copenhagen found that dark chocolate is much more satisfying and filling than its milk or white counterparts, which means it'll stem your cravings without tempting you to gorge. Think about it—when was the last time you binged on 70% chocolate bars?
This article originally appeared on Cosmopolitan.co.za. Minor edits have been made by the Cosmo.ph editors.