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Rejoice! Here Are 8 Possible Benefits of Eating Chocolate

You no longer have to save chocolate for your treat day.

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From slowing aging to improving vision, studies have proven that chocolate (stick to dark for maximum results) can actually be beneficial for your physical and mental health. Here are eight reasons why you can have your chocolate, and eat it too.

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1. Enhances brain function

Evidence suggests that chocolate can actually make you smarter. In a study, adult participants were given a small bar of chocolate. After 30 to 60 minutes, the volunteer's brain activity was measured using electroencephalography. Results showed a rise in the gamma frequency in the cerebral cortical regions of the brain. Researchers discovered that this increase could enhance the neuroplasticity of the brain, benefitting your behavior and brain health. More focus, fewer mood swings.

2. Improves gut microbiome

Your gut shares your chocolate cravings, according to a study. You have both good and bad bacteria in your microbiome. The good bacteria, such as Bidobacterium and lactic acid bacteria, feed on the chocolate to survive, ferment and overpopulate the bad bacteria. Rich in prebiotics, the fiber in chocolate restores the lining to your gut wall. Plus, chocolate is full of magnesium, which helps keep your digestive system working smoothly. Tummy troubles? Stick to 70 percent cocoa or higher to ensure quality ingredients and low sugar content.

Related: 10 Weird Habits That Can Actually Be Good for You

3. Lowers BMI

Yes, you can still shop in the candy aisle and lose weight. Organic dark chocolate is rich in antioxidants that help reduce inflammation in the body. This balances your immune system, speeds up your metabolism and help you shed any extra weight caused by inflammation. Dark chocolate is also full of healthy fats that prevent insulin spikes, otherwise known as the mid-afternoon slump. According to a study in the Journal of Proteome Research, the monounsaturated fats (MUFAS) can also boost your metabolism, helping you burn fat more efficiently. It also lowers cortisol, the stress hormone linked closely to weight gain.

4. Lifts your mood

Feeling blue? It's perfectly safe to self-medicate with some chocolate. Dark chocolate increases your serotonin, an antidepressant that boosts your mood. It also causes your brain to release the neurotransmitter phenylethylamine, otherwise known as the "love drug."

5. Slows aging

Swap the botox for a chocolate bar. Dark chocolate is rich in epicatechin, a flavonol that can enhance mitochondrial biogenesis. Mitogenesis is the creation of new mitochondria, which in turn, slow the body from aging. Save a buck and ditch the expensive face treatments to indulge in a small amount of dark chocolate on a regular basis.

Related: 11 Ways Drinking Alcohol Can Make You Smarter, Healthier and More Creative

6. Protects you from free radicals

Research has shown that chocolate has more antioxidants than tea and red wine. Some of these antioxidants help protect the body from free radicals. Free radicals are compounds with unpaired electrons that arise from our exposures to environmental toxins, such as car exhaust, fertilizer or plastic, that can cause cancer, dementia and other diseases.

7. Good for your cholesterol

Cocoa butter is full of heart-healthy MUFAs that can lower your cholesterol. In a study published in the Southern Medical Journal, researchers gave 28 healthy volunteers dark chocolate for one week. Results showed an increased lipid profile in the volunteers and reduced platelet activity, which is responsible for blood clots. By the end of one week, volunteers experienced an average 6 percent fall in LDL cholesterol (the bad stuff) and 9 percent rise in HDL cholesterol (the good stuff).

8. Temporarily improve eyesight

Forgot your glasses at home? A study by JAMA Ophthalmology shows that chocolate can temporarily enhance your vision. While most people believe only dark chocolate to be beneficial, researchers concluded that milk chocolate can have a positive effect on your eyes as well. In this study, 30 adults were given a small-letter eye exam after eating a piece of chocolate. Though the chocolate didn't give them 20/20, their eyesight was measured to increase by roughly 40 percent. Not bad for a treat.

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