Starting your day with chocolate could reduce hunger and improve sleep. This is science we can get behind!

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Here at EatingWell, we love our chocolate. Beyond being delicious, chocolate (dark chocolate, in particular) boasts some impressive health benefits like boosting mental sharpness and improving heart health, too. It might be thought of as a late night dessert rather than a breakfast food, but recent research showed that early morning chocolate in moderation could actually provide some specific health benefits, too. 

A recent study out of Brigham and Women's Hospital took a look at how chocolate and timing of chocolate intake impacted several biomarkers for 19 postmenopausal women. The Women either got 100 grams of milk chocolate each day (roughly 2 standard bars) in the morning or evening, or no chocolate. Outcomes were determined by comparing participants' results to their baseline biomarkers. One group ate 100 grams of chocolate within an hour of waking up, and the other ate 100 grams of chocolate within an hour of going to bed for two weeks and one group had no chocolate. They were all told to eat normally, so enjoy any other foods throughout the day as often as desired.

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If you are a chocolate lover, their findings were encouraging. Neither the morning or evening chocolate eaters gained weight over the course of the study. This might feel counter intuitive considering they added a significant amount of chocolate to an unrestricted diet. However, they found that eating chocolate decreased hunger levels and desire for sweets throughout the day. As a result, morning and evening chocolate eaters ate 300 and 150 calories fewer each day respectively. The gut microbiome of participants was also altered after chocolate consumption in beneficial ways. Lastly, they found that morning chocolate eaters were able to fall asleep more consistently at night than before the study.

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I don't know about you, but this feels like a pretty compelling case against restricting your diet or excluding chocolate as an "unhealthy" food. That said, while chocolate is associated with some pretty impressive health benefits, certain types of chocolate are packed with added sugar. Added sugar in excess can lead to insulin resistance, dental decay, heart disease, dementia and more. Options like Lindt Intense Dark Chocolate and Ghirardelli Intense Dark Chocolate are packed with cocoa and low in added sugar so you can experience all of the positives without the crash later. If you are a chocolate lover, this research spells good news for you. You can celebrate by making Chocolate-Raspberry Oatmeal, Chocolate Peanut Butter (it's delicious spread on toast in the morning) or Frozen Chocolate-Covered Bananas.