Every day around 4 pm, I get a really intense craving for chocolate.
Sometimes I'm able to ignore it, other times (especially when it's, ahem, that time of the month), I find myself running to the nearest CVS to satisfy it.
To be honest, writing this article isn't exactly helping my daily chocolate craving. I just cropped a photo of chocolate ice cream, and I am seriously struggling.
Here's the thing, though: Like red wine, in small amounts, chocolate is actually pretty good for you.
Just as I've gulped down half a bottle of red wine while thinking, "This is good for me!" I've definitely eaten a few too many Hershey's bars because, you know, I strive to live a healthy lifestyle.
But because sugar is really bad for you and too much chocolate leads to too many calories, let's spend a few minutes discussing chocolate.
Here's why it's good for you.
While you won't have much luck with milk chocolate or white chocolate, dark chocolate has some awesome benefits.
For example, a recent study conducted out of the Swinburne University of Technology in Australia had participants eat chocolate every day for 30 days. A month later, study participants' moods had improved.
I mean, can you blame them? I'd be in a great mood too if I ate chocolate every day for a month.
But in all seriousness, this is because dark chocolate has high levels of an antioxidant called polyphenol, which makes us feel happier and calmer.
Mood aside, research has also shown chocolate has flavonoids in it -- the same antioxidant found in red wine -- and regular consumption of it is associated with a 30 percent reduced stroke risk and 40 percent reduced heart disease risk.
Even better, just a little bit of chocolate can satisfy cravings quickly, leaving you less hungry throughout the day.
How much chocolate should I eat?
While you can drink up to five cups of coffee and see awesome benefits from it, the same is not true of chocolate.
One and a half to 3 ounces of dark chocolate is probably your best bet for seeing health benefits. If you're having a hard time visualizing that, 1.5 ounces is about 1/4 cup of chocolate chips, and 3 ounces is about half a cup.
After that, the sugar and calories start to add up.
Sorry, I wish I could eat more than that too!
What type should I be eating?
While Snickers bars and chocolate gelato are both delicious dessert options, they aren't exactly the best choices when it comes to health.
When browsing the chocolate section, look for a high percentage of cocoa or cacao (65 or higher) and a very small list of ingredients.
So if the first ingredient in your bar is sugar and there are at least five ingredients you can't pronounce, step away from the weird chocolate.
Well + Good has a list of super healthy chocolate bars for you to choose from, so if you're at a loss, head over there.
OK, so now that I've written a solid 500 words on chocolate, I'm going to go pick out a super healthy chocolate bar (aiming for 80 percent cocoa) and go to town.