Turns out that a little bit of chocolate is actually good for us - in fact, you can pretty much call it a health food, with scientists claiming that in moderation, the darker variety of cocoa is actually a beneficial part of your daily diet.

So, to celebrate World Chocolate Day, we've served up seven reasons you need to eat more of that delicious dark stuff today, and every day.

1.    It's the perfect pre-workout power food

7 reasons to indulge on World Chocolate Day

If you thought chocolate was standing in your way of achieving that perfect six-pack, think again. Scientists claim that snacking on dark chocolate before hitting the gym can help to improve your endurance, enabling you to exercise for much longer. It's believed that the epicatechin in cocoa prompts cells to release extra nitric oxide, which helps with blood flow.

2.    It protects your skin

7 reasons to indulge on World Chocolate Day

The flavanols in dark chocolate help protect your skin against sunburn as the compounds act as UV filters. You'll also be pleased to know, that the belief that eating chocolate gives you acne is a huge myth, with no scientific evidence out there to back this claim.

3.    It reduces stress

7 reasons to indulge on World Chocolate Day

Feeling stressed? Chocolate can fix that too. The sweet treat contains valeric acid which is a relaxant and tranquiliser that can reduce feelings of stress and anxiety and it's high levels of magnesium also help to fight stress. Sugar also has a calming effect on the brain, so it's a win-win in our eyes!

4.    It helps you lose weight

7 reasons to indulge on World Chocolate Day

It goes against everything we've ever been told about dieting and healthy eating, but chocolate can actually be used as a way to lose weight by reducing your appetite. Scientists say that a single square of chocolate melted on the tongue 20 minutes before a meal triggers the hormones in the brain that say 'I'm full', which should cut the amount of food you subsequently consume. Not to mention, it's high levels of magnesium help to reduce water retention.

5.    It reduces your risk of heart attack and stroke

7 reasons to indulge on World Chocolate Day

Another reason for us to indulge in chocolate is that regular consumption has been linked to improved cardiovascular health, a reduced instance of blood clotting and a lower risk of stroke.

6.    It improves your memory and boosts concentration

7 reasons to indulge on World Chocolate Day

If you needed any more justification for your chocolate consumption, it also improves brain function and memory, and its low GI provides you with a long lasting energy hit as opposed to a large sugar spike that some other sugary treats can be guilty of. Due to containing a stimulant called theobromine, a caffeine-like substance, it can also make you feel more alert, which makes it the perfect three o'clock snack if you ask us!

7.    It helps you live longer

7 reasons to indulge on World Chocolate Day

Researchers have found that those who ate modest amounts of chocolate up to three times a month, lived almost a year longer than those who didn't eat any at all. It's likely due to the fact that cocoa contains our favourite antioxidant called polyphenols (also found in red wine), which prevents the oxidation of harmful cholesterol which in turn helps to protect against cancer.

 

So go on, have another square. It is World Chocolate Day after all, and who are we to argue with that?

7 reasons to indulge on World Chocolate Day