We tend to have a love-hate relationship with chocolate: love in the moment, hate the next morning.  But it’s time to start giving chocolate a better rep for our health. Here’s why:

1.  It’s rich in antioxidants

Photo Courtesy of The Hungry Ma

Photo Courtesy of thehungryma.com

The cocoa bean contains high levels of plant nutrients called flavonoids, which have antioxidant power. What this means for you is reduced cholesterol levels, blood pressure, heart disease, and chances of cancer. Raw cacao has more antioxidants than blueberries, red wine, and 4 times more than green tea. So dark chocolate = longer life. At least that’s what I’m telling myself.

2. It reduces stress

Photo Courtesy of Eat Life Whole

Photo Courtesy of eatlifewhole.com

Now you can embrace those well-deserved study breaks and reach for the chocolate. Studies from Switzerland have shown that consuming an ounce and a half of dark chocolate daily for two weeks significantly reduces stress hormone levels. Chocolate shots, anyone?

3.  It boosts brainpower

Photo Courtesy of Healthy Food Star

Photo Courtesy of healthyfoodstar.com

Because cocoa improves blood flow to the brain and shields damaging cells, dark chocolate consumption has been shown to improve cognitive function, alertness, and memory. It also contains small traces of caffeine, which can be stimulating in the short-term.  Seems like a reasonable excuse to eat chocolate at all times of the day.

4. It’s good for your skin

Photo Courtesy of Beautylish

Photo Courtesy of beautylish.com

The flavonoids found in dark chocolate protect your skin from the sun’s UV rays, making you less prone to redness from a burn.  Chocolate can also improve blood flow to the skin, increasing skin density and hydration. Talk about an affordable and delicious addition to a daily skincare routine.

5. It can control coughs

Photo by Carly Krasnoff

Photo by Carly Krasnoff

Don’t be that loud cougher in class. Time to ditch those gross medicines and reach for some chocolate to cure your cough. How does it work? The chemical theobromine found in dark chocolate reduces the activity of the brain’s vagus nerve, which triggers coughing fits.

6. It makes you fall in love

Photo Courtesy of The Savage Feast

Photo Courtesy of thesavagefeast.com

Next time mom asks why you’re still single, tell her it’s because she’s not sending you enough chocolate. In addition to the increased blood flow to the brain and the caffeine, dark chocolate contains phenylethylamine (PEA), the same chemical your brain creates when you’re falling in love. And PEA encourages the release of endorphins, so you’ll feel happier, too.

While dark chocolate appears to be the cure for all problems of a college student, that doesn’t mean we can start eating mounds of it everyday. Stick with one ounce a few times a week, or the benefits will be counteracted by the calories and added sugar. Reach for organic dark chocolate with 70% or higher cocoa content for maximum benefits.