Whether your Valentine handpicks the most unique artisanal chocolate for you or chooses to go the well-worn route of a Russell Stover sampler, chances are you’re going to be chowing down on chocolate on February 14. Hell, even if you don’t have a Valentine, hopefully you go get yourself a nice big box of chocolates to enjoy while catching up on “Scandal.” Luckily, chocolate has big health and beauty benefits, so you don’t have to feel an ounce of guilt while indulding. Just keep in mind that the higher the cocoa percentage, the bigger the health benefits, so try to shoot for dark chocolate with 70 percent or more.Here, some fun facts about chocolate — now go enjoy every last bite!

  1. Dark chocolate relaxes blood vessels, which reduces blood pressure.
  2. A March 2012 study found that adults who ate chocolate often had a lower body mass index (BMI) than those who ate it less frequently.
  3. A study by researchers at Osaka University in Japan found that parts of the cocoa bean can kill mouth bacteria and prevent tooth decay.
  4. Eating dark chocolate every day for just two weeks can reduce levels of stress hormones in the body.
  5. Lower stress levels also means better skin: You’ll have less collagen breakdown that leads to wrinkles.
  6. Flavonols (antioxidants found in chocolate with a high cocoa content) help your skin protect itself from UV damage.
  7. Reguarly consuming small doses of dark chocolate also reduces inflammation, which is basically at the heart of tons of illnesses and skin conditions like rosacea, acne and wrinkles.
  8. Milk chocolate usually has higher sugar and milk content than dark, and not enough antioxidant content to bring the same benefits (sorry).
  9. The darker the chocolate, the higher the caffeine content.
  10. Nutritionists recommend drinking chocolate milk after working out to get all the nutrients you need after breaking a sweat.
  11. Dark chocolate can help heal brain injuries like concussions because of its ability to reduce inflammation.
  12. One study found flavanol can actually reverse mild age-related memory loss.
  13. Chocolate’s aphrodisiac qualities are most likely overhyped … but it can’t hurt to try anyway, right?

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