• National Milk Chocolate Day is celebrated annually on July 28
  • Chocolate can lower cholesterol levels, reduce the risk of heart disease and prevent cognitive decline
  • Eating chocolate can help protect the skin from sun damage due to the presence of flavonoids

National Milk Chocolate Day is celebrated annually on July 28 to highlight the delectable treat that's made from combining solid chocolate and powdered, liquid or condensed milk.

Though it's a little less popular than dark chocolate, the milk variety is a globally loved snack as it offers a different way to indulge in chocolate.

On National Milk Chocolate Day 2021, here are 12 surprising health benefits of chocolate that may make you want to grab a bar right away, courtesy of Healthline, Life Hack and Medical News Today.

May help protect against heart disease

People who eat chocolate have a lower risk for heart disease. This is due to the flavonoids present in dark chocolate, which cause the body's blood vessels to relax.

Packed with nutrients

Chocolate is rich in fiber, potassium, magnesium, copper, calcium and manganese -- nutrients that all contribute to the overall wellbeing of the body.

Can protect the skin from the sun

Since chocolates are rich in flavonoids, eating them increases the skin's hydration and density. Flavonoids have the effect of improving blood flow in the skin, thus offering additional protection against sun damage.

Known to improve brain function

Flavanoids don't only protect the skin -- they also help with brain function. According to Healthline, flavonoids improve blood flow to the brain, thus allowing for better memory and improved verbal fluency for older adults.

Filled with antioxidants

Chocolate is rich in antioxidants -- substances that slow down the rate of damage to cells caused by free radicals. This lowers the risk of developing illnesses such as cancer.

Good for fetal growth and development

Chocolate has been found to have a positive impact on pregnant women's placental function, allowing for healthy fetal growth and development for their unborn babies.

Boosts athletic performance

A little bit of chocolate can already boost oxygen availability in the body. This gives people more energy when they work out or perform fitness training.

May help with weight loss

Dark chocolate triggers hormones that send signals to the brain indicating that the body is full. This is a good way to control appetite, which could then lead to weight loss.

Helps lower cholesterol levels

Eating chocolate moderately can lower the body's cholesterol. This leads to a reduced risk of developing conditions such as lipid disorder, peripheral arterial disease and Type 2 diabetes. 

May help patients with Alzheimer's disease

Patients suffering from Alzheimer's have damaged nerve pathways to the brain, but cocoa has been found to have the ability to reduce the damage done to these vital pathways.

Increases endorphin production

The flavanols in chocolate help in endorphin production, making one feel instantly happy or excited. 

May help in soothing coughs

Chocolate can help soothe a troublesome cough, according to Life Hack. This is brought about by the theobromine chemical present in chocolate.

In the shadow of rockets and the Islamist movement Hamas, Gazan chocolate factories produce sweet goods banned from export. In the shadow of rockets and the Islamist movement Hamas, Gazan chocolate factories produce sweet goods banned from export. Photo: AFPTV / Yahya HASSOUNA