HEALTHY LIVING
02/14/2014 08:09 am ET | Updated Feb 14, 2014

Fit Links: Chocolate For Dinner, How To Protect Your Wrists At Yoga And More

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There are hundreds of wonderful sites on healthy living to be seen all over the blogosphere. Here at Fit Links, we'll introduce you to some that have caught our eye.

We never thought we'd say this, but go ahead, eat chocolate for dinner. Really! Dig in to this spinach salad with chocolate vinaigrette recipe from Fit Bottomed Girls. You can thank us later.

They're crucial to your practice but also a little under-appreciated. Here's how to show your wrists a little extra love in yoga class, care of POPSUGAR Fitness.

High-intensity interval training is taking the barre world by storm, thanks to a new studio mixing the typical small-muscle barre moves with things like cardio kickboxing or Tabata intervals or kettlebells. Give it a try at home with this easy-to-follow sneak peek from Well + Good.

Seeing the number on the scale shrink is only one goal on the path to healthy living. But goals beyond weight loss can help you stick with your exercise routine through the most frustrating of plateaus. Need some inspiration? SparkPeople shares five non-scale goals sure to get you motivated.

ALSO ON HUFFPOST:

  • 1 It Reduces Stroke Risk
    Shutterstock
    A 2011 Swedish study found that women who ate more than 45 grams of chocolate a week had a 20 percent lower risk of stroke than women who treated themselves to fewer than 9 grams of the sweet stuff.
  • 2 It Boosts Heart Health
    Matija Puhek/500px
    Regular chocolate eaters welcome a host of benefits for their hearts, including lower blood pressure, lower "bad" LDL cholesterol and a lower risk of heart disease. One of the reasons dark chocolate is especially heart-healthy is its inflammation-fighting properties, which reduce cardiovascular risk.
  • 3 It Fills You Up
    Kohei Hara via Getty Images
    Because it's rich in fiber, dark chocolate can actually help keep you full, so you'll eat less, Dr. David Katz, founding director of Yale University's Prevention Research Center and HuffPost blogger told The Huffington Post. Regular chocolate eaters might do themselves a favor by treating themselves to a bite instead of snacking on "11 other things first" he said. Dark chocolate does the trick much better than milk, according to a small study from the University of Copenhagen, and may even reduce cravings for sweet, salty and fatty foods.
  • 4 It May Fight Diabetes
    Julie Thompson
    A small Italian study from 2005 found that regularly eating chocolate increases insulin sensitivity, thereby reducing risk for diabetes.
  • 5 It Protects Your Skin
    Katerina Nanopoulou via Alamy
    Forget what you've heard about chocolate causing breakouts: Dark chocolate is actually good for your skin. The type of antioxidants called flavonoids found in dark chocolate offer some protection from UV damage from the sun. And no, that does not mean you can skip the sunscreen!
  • 6 It Can Quiet Coughs
    Andrew Harding via Jupiter Images
    Can't stop coughing? An ingredient in chocolate called theobromine seems to reduce activity of the vagus nerve, the part of the brain that triggers hard-to-shake coughs. In late 2010, the BBC reported that scientists were investigating creating a drug containing theobromine to preplace cough syrups containing codeine, which can have risky side effects.
  • 7 It Boosts Your Mood
    Shutterstock
    There's no denying that indulging your sweet tooth every once in a while feels great. Enjoying food is part of enjoying life, points out HuffPost Healthy Living's wellness editor, Dr. Patricia Fitzgerald. Chocolate eaters also report feeling less stressed.
  • 8 It Improves Blood Flow
    Lisa Capretto/OWN
    Cocoa has anti-clotting, blood-thinning properties that work in a similar way to aspirin, Dr. Fitzgerald writes, which can improve blood flow and circulation.
  • 9 It Improves Vision
    Jamie Grill via Getty Images
    Because of chocolate's ability to improve blood flow, in particular to the brain, researchers at the University of Reading hypothesized in a small 2011 study that chocolate may also increase blood flow to the retina, thereby giving vision a boost.
  • 10 It May Make You Smarter
    Getty Images
    That boost of blood flow to the brain created by cocoa's flavanols seems to make people feel more awake and alert, and, in a small British study, perform better on counting tasks.

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