For us chocoholics, a life without the tasty treat is hard to imagine — thankfully, we don’t have to. This simple indulgence is packed with antioxidants that offer a ton of health perks including helping to lower blood pressure. Although dark reigns supreme in this department, new research suggests that eating any kind of chocolate — whether dark, milk, or white — can help us live longer by lowering our risk of age-related chronic diseases, such as heart disease and stroke.
A study published in the European Heart Journal looked at the positive effects of consuming dark, milk, and white chocolate in 19,357 participants ages 35 to 65-years-old. Researchers asked participants to report about their daily chocolate consumption (the type of chocolate and amount they typically) through food questionnaires. About 57 percent said they mainly consumed milk chocolate, 24 percent ate dark chocolate, and two percent consumed white chocolate. Researchers took their blood pressure and waited at least 28 days before following up to see the outcomes resulting from their normal chocolate consumption.
The study’s authors found that eating at least six grams of any kind of chocolate each day was associated with a 39 percent lower risk of stroke and heart attack. Interestingly enough, they also said that chocolate consumption helped to reduce blood pressure and heart disease risk even in those who had lower intakes of fruits and vegetables. Now this doesn’t mean going and swapping your veggies for Hershey’s Kisses, but the antioxidants in chocolate, called cocoa flavanols, have major heart-protecting benefits.
It’s important to keep in mind that dark chocolate contains the most cocoa flavanols out of the varieties because it’s made with little to no added sugar. Eating chocolate that’s packed with cocoa flavanols can help reduce oxidative stress free radicals in your body. Previous research has shown that this lowers your chances of developing age-related diseases like Alzheimer’s and type 2 diabetes. So dark chocolate is definitely the way to go for the most benefits that might add years to your life!
But, don’t just take it from us. Eunice Modlin from Indiana and Giuseppina Projetto of Italy, who both lived beyond 100, attributed their longevity to eating chocolate every day. Modlin’s granddaughter, Tammy Modlin Gentry, once revealed to TODAY that her then 102-year-old grandmother’s go-to treat was two pieces of dark chocolate each day. Projetto (who was also known as the “nonna of Italy”) believed that snacking on chocolate every day, along with keeping a “positive attitude” was a powerful anti-aging tool — she lived until she was 116!
So, next time you’re at the checkout counter and feel the urge to grab a bar of your favorite chocolate, do it guilt-free (just remember to not eat it all in one sitting). And when you get home, feel free pour yourself a glass of red to enjoy with that chocolate to protect your vision as you age. Sounds like a perfect evening!