Can chocolate help you live longer?

In news appreciated by sweet-toothed ladies everywhere, it turns out that chocolate might actually be good for the heart.

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In news appreciated by sweet-toothed ladies everywhere, it turns out that chocolate might actually be good for the heart. A recent story by Jeannine Stein in the LA Times — “Chocolate (but not too much of it) may be good for your heart” — discusses a new study that found that eating chocolate could possibly lower the risk of heart disease by 37 percent and stroke by 29 percent.

The results are from an analysis of seven studies that involved a total of over 100,000 people. Of those seven, five studies showed an association between higher levels of chocolate consumption and a lowered risk of cardiometabolic illness, and one study even showed a link between chocolate consumption and a lowered risk of diabetes. The causal relationship is still unclear, but there is speculation that chocolate’s polyphenol (or antioxidant) content could improve endothelial function (aiding in blood circulation), blood pressure and insulin regulation.

Good news, yes? But Stein also offers some cautionary advice: “But before you dash to the supermarket to buy that five-pound bag of M&Ms, the study authors caution about eating chocolate with abandon. After all, they point out, chocolate isn’t exactly calorie-free. Although the participants in the studies ate a variety of chocolate products, including chocolate bars, drinks, nutritional supplements and desserts, all chocolate is not created equal, and eating too much of the stuff that’s filled with fat and sugar can put on pounds, possibly upping the risk of high blood pressure and diabetes — the very stuff that can lead to cardiovascular problems.”

So now we’ve seemingly scored on finding health benefits for both chocolate and red wine in moderation. If science ever finds a way to make barbecue pork and shrimp wontons heart healthy, my eating life will be completely satisfying.