Chocoholics rejoice! Gone are the days of feeling guilty for sneaking a few squares of chocolate into your mouth when your partner, colleague or family aren't looking. Now you can enjoy your chocolate loud and proud because modern science has come up with some excellent reasons why you should be indulging in your favourite sweet treat.
From soothing coughs to younger-looking skin (yes, really!), we list the surprising health benefits hidden within sweet, delicious chocolate.
Professor Alyn Morice published findings that chocolate can actually soothe coughs better than codeine syrup. The chocolate apparently forms a sticky coating that protects the nerve endings that cause you to cough. As the chocolate melts in your mouth, the natural cough-suppressing ingredients come into contact with the sore throat nerves and calm them down.
So next time you have a pesky cough, suck on a piece of chocolate, letting it melt slowly in your mouth.
Forget the sugary milk or white choc block – although delicious, they're skin-saving benefits are still up for debate, but dark chocolate could be just the think your tired skin needs. Dr Stefanie Williams, a dermatologist and medical doctor, encourages eating good quality dark chocolate for all its skin replenishing antioxidants which protect against the free radical damage that causes wrinkles and premature ageing. Say no more!
Neuroscientist Will Clower says chocolate before and after a meal can help you to loose weight - and now he is our hero. Clower suggests a small square of good chocolate melted on the tongue 20 minutes before a meal triggers the hormones in the brain that say "I'm full", reducing the amount of food you will subsequently consume. Finishing a meal in the same way could reduce subsequent snacking too.
It's no accident that chocolate and romantic encounters go hand-in-hand. In a study published by the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, researches tested the effect of sweet foods on romantic perception, concluding that we are likely to feel more amorous toward a partner (real or imagined) after eating chocolate.
Similarly, previous studies have revealed that chocolate makes us feel good, releasing the pleasure chemical dopamine to our brain, which is a similar to feeling to falling head over heels in love.
A Finnish study found that eating chocolate reduced stress in expectant mothers, and that the babies of choc-nibbling mums smiled more often than the offspring of non-chocolate-eating parents. Smiles all round!