“Chocolate for the Heart,” Alice Park, from TIME Magazine, dated August 30, 2010
Romantics know that a little bit of chocolate can warm the heart, and researchers are learning that the benefits of the sweet may not stop there. Studies have linked chocolate consumption with lower blood pressure, lower levels of bad cholesterol and reduced risk of stroke and heart attack. A new trial documents how much cocoa is enough to keep the heart healthy — and how much is too much.
A survey of 31,000 post-menopausal women in Sweden found that those who ate chocolate one or twice a week lowered their risk of heart failure by 32%. But more isn’t better, say the authors, since women in the study who indulged in chocolate every day experienced the same heart-failure rate as those who ate a cocoa placebo.
The key to exploiting chocolate’s benefits is to balance the health effects of flavonoids with the fats that make it such a calorie-dense food. Flavonoids, which are more prevalent in dark chocolate, can keep blood vessels flexible and reduce clumping of platelets that block heart arteries, but the high fat content of chocolate can counteract those effects. A few treats a week, it seems, might be just right.
I am a-okay with eating chocolate a few times a week. THERE IS A GOD.