Many of us happily know by now that a little dark chocolate goes a long way — not only does it make us feel good, it is good for our bodies as well. Cocoa and dark chocolate contains specific flavanols (a type of antioxidant family) that has been shown in studies to support healthy blood pressure and healthy inflammatory response. In fact, more than 100 clinical studies have been published showing that ingesting cocoa-flavanols have positive impact on human health.
Nutritionist and research expert Risa Schulman, PhD, reviewed literature for Herbalgram, the prestigious journal of the American Botanical Council. Authors of a meta-analysis (study of studies to arrive at average outcomes), found no studies solely on men and cocoa/flavonols, so the authors launched their own prospective study — they found that the more chocolate men consumed, they had a decreased risk of stroke. The authors also performed a meta-analysis looking at chocolate consumption and stroke risk. And, although the scientists are not quite sure why this is (mechanism of action), they theorize that it may be due to cocoa’s ability to support healthy blood pressure, among more complicated actions.
More studies obviously need to be undertaken to validate this relationship and then to figure out at what doses are viable to provide those benefits. In the meantime, make sure that the chocolate you eat is dark only, and has very little sugar added. Typical candy bars will not provide the benefits, and may do more harm than good — excess bad fats and sugars. Dark chocolate unsweetened baking squares or chips will satisfy the chocolate desire and provide the flavanols.