Good news for dancers with a sweet tooth: New research may have just given you another reason to reach for dark chocolate. We already knew about the many dancer-friendly benefits of the treat, from improved heart health to stress reduction—but a recent study published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition found that it may also boost endurance.
For the study, a group of eight cyclists ate 40 grams (about 1.5 squares) of chocolate each day for two weeks. Half received dark chocolate, while the other half received white chocolate (which contains little to no cocoa) as a control. The two groups then switched and repeated the experiment for another two weeks.
The results of several physical tests showed that the athletes who consumed dark chocolate used less oxygen while riding at a moderate pace, which signals increased endurance—and they covered more distance during a time trial. Why? The flavanols in dark chocolate are thought to increase the body's production of nitric oxide, which reduces oxygen consumption.
Though the study was small, the results make a promising case for adding dark chocolate to your list of dance bag snacks. It just might come in handy during tough cardio workouts, or when you're building up stamina for a long ballet.