The Benefit: Protects Your Ticker
Study after study shows that chocolate is good for more than satisfying a sweet tooth—it also prevents heart disease. Most of the credit for this benefit goes to the flavonoids found in cacao, the bean from which chocolate is made. These antioxidant compounds increase the flexibility of veins and arteries and lower blood pressure, says Jim White, R.D., owner of Jim White Fitness & Nutrition Studios. In fact, one review of 114,000 people published in the British Medical Journal found those who consumed the most chocolate had a 37% lower risk for developing heart disease and a 29% lower risk for suffering a stroke than those who consumed less of the sweet stuff.
But don’t reach for any old chocolate bar. White recommends picking dark chocolate blends with at least 70% cacao, which will pack the biggest heart-healthy benefits with the least amount of sugar, and limiting yourself to seven ounces (that’s about four dark chocolate bars) a week.