Not that you need another reason to indulge in chocolate (you probably already know it's good for your blood pressure), but isn't it delightful, delicious, and delectable that there is one? Eating chocolate shaves your risk of "cardiometabolic disorders," a cluster of conditions that nobody wants, including heart disease, diabetes, and metabolic syndrome. (Taking this vitamin also helps protect you from this nasty threesome.)
Here's the big surprise: We're talking all kinds of chocolate, not just the dark types. Even milk chocolate and cups of hot cocoa have benefits.
We're also not talking slight improvements. Research reveals that consuming a healthy amount of chocolate reduces your risk of heart disease by 37% and stroke by 29% versus eating little or none. (Not coincidentally, it also lowers your bad LDL cholesterol.) In addition, it shrinks your risk of type 2 diabetes by up to 31%. These impressive numbers emerged from an analysis of seven studies involving more than 100,000 people.
What's in chocolate that makes it so good for you? Loads of potent plant antioxidants called polyphenols, including flavonoids. Yep, the same good-for-you substances found in blueberries, wine, green tea, and olive oil, as well as many fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Among polyphenols' many powers is the ability to sooth inflammation in your body. Internal hot zones are linked to all kinds of trouble, from memory damage to joint pain and accelerated aging. (Learn more about chocolate as a healthful treat.)
A Little "Dose" Will Do Ya
Like wine, the trick with chocolate is to indulge daily without overindulging. A little goes a long way, because most chocolate contains about 150 calories per ounce, including lots of sugar and fat. Overdo and you could actually increase the health risks you're trying to prevent. In most of these studies, people had an ounce or two a day. Even smarter: Get your fix in a cozy cup of hot chocolate made with real polyphenol-rich cocoa powder, no-fat milk, and sugar-free sweetener. Bingo! All the benefits, none of the bad stuff.
Eat chocolate, die happy, and live longer. Sweet.
Now, this is the kind of medical advice I can really sink my teeth into, be it dark chocolate, milk chocolate, German Chocolate or even the occasional (very occasional) white chocolate, even though the latter is very high in saturated fat; but especially Chocolate Hazelnut cappuccinos, my fave.