Chocolate is the ultimate comfort food – a sure-fire stress reliever, pick-me-upper and taste bud tantalizer. But did you know, it’s actually good for your health in other ways beyond your mood?

Real scientists from around the world (yup –people with authentic lab coats) have been studying this gift from Mother Nature and they’re consistently discovering a long and growing list of health benefits.  A one-off study by a junior college could easily be dismissed, but hundreds of studies conducted at some of the most prestigious universities around the globe indicates there is more to these claims than wishful thinking.

But the trick seems to be, you get more of the health benefits when you eat the good stuff – high quality dark chocolate with a cocoa percentage of about 70 per cent, made fresh, without all the unhealthy additives that mass manufacturers include to keep it stable on the shelf for months.  Just like the chocolate we carefully source and craft at Sweet Lollapalooza Fine Chocolate.

Neuroscientist Will Clower, Ph.D says in his book Eat Chocolate, Lose Weight that a small square of good chocolate (again, it’s got to be the good stuff) melted on the tongue 20 minutes before a meal triggers the hormones in the brain to say “I’m full”, which can help you cut the amount of food you eat. If you end a meal with the same small trigger, you could reduce your risk of late-night snacking.  Who couldn’t use a little help like that this time of year?

Dozens of credible research studies have so far uncovered that good chocolate is good for the heart, circulation and brain, and it may help improve a few of our common heath challenges like obesity, diabetes and dementia.

In just one of these studies, Professor Phyo Myint, Chair in Old Age Medicine at Aberdeen University, remarked "Cumulative evidence suggests that higher chocolate intake is associated with a lower risk of future cardiovascular events.”

Chocolate can ward off the winter blues because it contains phenylethylamine (PEA), which is the same chemical that your brain creates when you feel like you’re falling in love – the feel-good endorphins.  It can also be good for the soul when you source chocolate crafted with love, from materials grown with care by farmers rewarded properly. It won’t be fast and it may not be cheap, but it will be good for your heart and soul.

With all research studies, a long-term effort is needed to understand the full picture.  But the early investigations are promising. All the credible scientists stress that we can all reduce our risk of health issues like stroke by exercising regularly, eating a healthful, balanced diet and getting our blood pressure checked.  But it certainly seems that eating some fine dark chocolate couldn’t hurt, and probably helps too.  Good news and a good resolution to kick off 2016 – eat more good chocolate.