Ok, maybe “forever” is overselling it a bit. However, a new study published in the British Medical Journal suggests that eating chocolate can extend your lifespan and might even stave off heart disease.
According to the article, “Recent studies (both experimental and observational) have suggested that chocolate consumption has a positive influence on human health, with antioxidant, antihypertensive, anti-inflammatory, anti-atherogenic, and anti-thrombotic effects as well as influence on insulin sensitivity, vascular endothelial function, and activation of nitric oxide.”
In plainer English, the researchers said “Chocolate good. Eat it.”
How good is chocolate for you? Eating more of it gives you one-third less risk of heart disease, and nearly a 30 per cent decreased risk of stroke. By comparison, exercising regularly (rather than sitting on your butt all day, every day) only lowers your risk of heart disease by 45 per cent.
Being overweight is a serious health risk, and would obviously outweigh (pun somewhat intended) any health benefits from eating chocolate. So if you imagined a world where you could watch Jerry Springer and feast in Hershey bars until you fit into that old prom dress, you’re sadly mistaken. Like all things in life, the best results come from moderation. This study proves that.
The health benefits are likely due to chocolate’s high content in polyphenols, antioxidant compounds that boost the body’s production of nitric oxide, which in turn helps reduce blood pressure, the researchers wrote. Reduced blood pressure, along with the general feelings of happiness that come from other chemicals in chocolate, seem to contribute to an overall sense of well-being. This contributes to the benefits.
One thing to look at when purchasing chocolate for medical reasons is the sugar and fat content. Both sugar and fat contribute to heart disease, so an excess of these ingredients (found often in American made chocolates) will negate the positive benefits of chocolate on the heart. Nonetheless, this study suggests even moderate intake of so-called bad chocolate is good for you.
You can find the full study, linked here.
— John Thorpe