Have you ever considered having a chocolate bar in place of breakfast? While some people would scoff at this idea, there seems to be more evidence than ever that indulging in chocolate in the morning has incredible health benefits. How truly beneficial is early-morning chocolate to your wellbeing? And what makes chocolate so essential for your physical and mental health?

Challenging the chocolate-after-supper myth

We’ve all heard the phrase from our parents, grandparents, and their grandparents: “No eating dessert before you’ve finished your meal!” Most of us have spent our lives believing that having chocolate first thing in the morning is a no-no and that we should instead stick with sugar-less, protein-rich breakfast foods. While protein, carbohydrates, and other balanced nutrients are certainly an essential part of any good breakfast, consuming chocolate with your morning meal isn’t as harmful as you may think. In fact, a bit of chocolate in the A.M. can be extremely beneficial to your diet, health, awareness, weight, and happiness levels. What makes the morning such a perfect time to indulge in a sweet chocolate treat? There are tons of ways that incorporating chocolate into your breakfast routine can improve your mental and physical health.

The surprising mental benefits

First thing’s first: Chocolate can boost your mind. Believe it or not, chocolate is incredibly brain-healthy. Chocolate has been shown to improve blood flow to the brain, encouraging attentiveness and alertness all day long. Chocolate at breakfast can easily take your whole morning from frustrating to fantastic, helping your mind retain memories, recall information, remain focused and alert, and recognize connections between events that other people may miss. If a big test, a large work project, or a busy workday is around the corner, consider adding chocolate to your pre-brain workout routine. A glass of hot chocolate, Nutella toast, chocolate-chip pancakes or a chocolate croissant are all excellent ways to start the day when activities are on the horizon that will require your full focus.

Still, chocolate doesn’t only help you start the day with a newfound sense of focus. It also helps you ensure that your day starts on a joyful note. One positive property of chocolate is that it helps to stimulate the part of your brain that produces endorphins. If you wake up feeling low or otherwise unmotivated, adding chocolate to your first meal is one way to help boost your spirits and start the day right. It may not be able to completely eradicate negative feelings or a moody slump, yet it is a powerful tool when it comes to endorphin production and the stimulation of serotonin. A piece of chocolate certainly can’t hurt a bad mood!

How it improves your physical health

Chocolate is considered a “junk food” by many, so the main physical benefit of eating chocolate in the morning may surprise you: weight loss. Many people associate sweet, sugary foods like chocolate with instances of weight gain rather than weight loss. In reality, a piece of chocolate in the morning can help you both lose weight and keep off the pounds over time. How does it work? Easy: crushing cravings. Eating a bit of chocolate in the morning fends off cravings for sugar throughout the day. As a result, you’ll be less likely to binge on sugary and carb-loaded foods whenever you get hungry. Being able to satisfy your sweet tooth early on in the day helps prevent any urges to dig into sweets later on in the afternoon. This promotes weight loss by encouraging you to eat healthier foods when a grumbling stomach emerges. Chocolate also tastes more scrumptious (and much sweeter) on a fresh palette after you’ve had your beauty rest. Another great benefit? Chocolate helps fend off heart disease, promotes muscular healing after injury, and, when consumed early in the day and in moderation, can help you prevent the development of type-II diabetes. Consuming the sweet treat early in the day is physically rewarding in more ways than one!