It’s the nutritional science we’ve all been waiting for: tucking into a bar of chocolate every now and again is actually good for your health.
Scientists looked at five studies involving more than 575,000 adults, and concluded that participants who ate up to three bars a month reduced their risk of heart failure by 13 per cent, compared to those who didn’t eat any at all.
The natural compounds in chocolate, called flavonoids, help boost blood vessel health and reduce inflammation, researchers say. The kicker? Indulging every day ups your risk by 17 per cent, proving you can have too much of a good thing.
Last year the average Brit consumed 8.4 kilograms of chocolate, according to Mintel Global New Products Database (GNPD). That’s equivalent to a gut-busting 1.3 stone, or 44,520 calories. So, no matter how many miles we've clocked up, we could probably do with slashing our intake a bit.
Still, if you’re looking for health-boosting benefits, researchers say bitter is better. Dark chocolate contains the highest amount of flavonoids and the least amount of sugar.
“I believe that chocolate is an important dietary source of flavonoids which are associated with reducing inflammation and increasing good cholesterol,” lead researcher Dr Chayakrit Krittanawong, from the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York, told The Telegraph.
“Most importantly, flavonoids can increase nitric oxide [a gas which expands blood vessels, helping circulation]. However, chocolate may have high levels of saturated fats. I would say moderate dark chocolate consumption is good for health."
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A version of this article appeared on Menshealth.co.uk