It's Easter weekend- the only accepted time for scoffing down Easter eggs "just because". We're obviously all aware that chocolate isn't the best for our health, but hey, it's a one-off (just like Christmas, birthdays, Halloween, weekends, days off work...), and we all deserve a treat from time to time.
But what if we said to you that you can indulge in your favourite cocoa treat without feeling completely guilty afterwards? What if chocolate was actually proven to have numerous health benefits, including benefits to the hair?
Before you dash off to stock up on all the chocolate you can get your hands on in celebration, stop and listen: your standard Dairy Milk bar isn't the sort of chocolate we're talking about. Milk chocolate is loaded with sugar and other nasty stuff that helps it to taste so sweet (ironic, huh?). White chocolate, our personal favourite, is even worse. It countains around 60% sugar, which is a bit crazy, when we think about how easily we can get through a crate of it.
Dark chocolate, on the other hand- that means anything containing 70% cocoa solids- is actually very good for you in sensible portions, in the same way that a handful of almonds of a spoonful of nut butter is. The darker the chocolate, the better the health benefits, with dark chocolate being a proven good source of antioxidants, improving brain function and reducing the risk of heart disease.
Curious to know how dark chocolate can specifically benefit the hair? Here's how:
High in antioxidants
As mentioned above, dark chocolate contains a wide variety of antioxidants. These include polyphenols and flavanols, which have been proven to promote hair growth and protect the scalp against UV damage.
Rich in magnesium, zinc, selenium and iron2
Chances are, the minerals magnesium, zinc, selenium and iron2 do nothing more than bring back vague memories of high school chemistry, but trust us when we say they're vital for the healthy functioning of our bodies. Magnesium in particular, of which dark chocolate is a good source, helps to nourish and sooth the scalp, preventing dandruff and ultimately encouraging hair growth.
Contains minerals for hair quality-boost
The minerals in dark chocolate don't only encourage hair growth. They can also improve hair quality by strengthening hair strands, reducing breakage and split ends and giving hair a thicker, shinier texture.
Proven anti-inflamatory benefits
Another benefit of dark chocolate's antioxidant content is its anti-inflamatory agents. These prevent infections from forming, reducing dandruff, greasiness and itchy scalp, and ultimately preventing hair loss.
Boasts copper to maintain natural hair colour
Copper, aside from providing energy to the brain and improving the functioning of the nervous system, has been used extensively in the past and present to treat hair loss. Not only do copper peptides increase the size of hair follicles, therefore increasing strand thickness, they also help to produce melanin, which prevents the graying of hair.
If you really can't get enough of chocolate to the extent that you're not happy with just consuming the stuff, you'll be happy to know that chocolate shampoo is a legitimate thing that actually exists. We don't literally mean shampoo made from melted chocolate- although that would be cool- but the stuff contains cacao bean extracts that are said to boost circulation in the scalp and encourage hair to grow.
While we probably won't be running to the shops to purchase all-organic, 80% cocoa Easter eggs any time soon, it's good to know that chocolate in its less processed form is actually pretty good for you. But for now, we're off to enjoy our highly-processed Creme Eggs, Malteaster Bunnies and other giant hollow things. We hope your weekend plays out just the same.