In recent years, dark chocolate has been in the news for its healthy benefits. It contains an abundance of flavonoids — the same powerful antioxidants found in red wine, green tea, fruits and vegetables — which have been associated with a decrease in the risk of coronary heart disease, cancer, high blood pressure and stroke.
And now there’s more good news for chocolate lovers. According to a new study out of Germany, small doses of dark chocolate can decrease your risk for heart attack or stroke by nearly 40 per cent. The reason? The flavonols found in chocolate help the muscles in blood vessels to widen, which can lead to a drop in blood pressure, experts say.
For the study, published in the European Heart Journal, researchers followed 20,000 people over eight years. It’s the first study to track the health benefits of chocolate over this long of a period of time. But, alas, now for the caveat: When it comes to chocolate, it’s all too easy to have too much of a good thing.
Overindulgence can lead to weight gain, which is a major risk factor for heart problems and strokes. Participants in the German study, for example, consumed only about six grams of chocolate per day — or the equivalent of about one square of a chocolate bar. And in case you’re wondering why chocolate seems to be so universally loved — apparently, this has to do with the mood-altering chemicals found in chocolate, which experts say trip the serotonin receptors and create a feeling of “falling in love”.