They say chocolate is the way to a woman’s heart, and they could be right – eating one or two servings of dark chocolate weekly is good for the hearts of middle-aged or elderly women.
A nine-year observational study followed 31,823 healthy Swedish women ages 48 to 82 and found that those who ate moderate amounts of high-quality chocolate had healthier hearts.
The women who gained the most heart-health benefits had eaten one or two servings of the dark chocolate weekly, followed by those who ate one to three servings monthly. Each serving of chocolate was typically between 19 and 30 grams.
On the other hand, the women who ate one or more servings per day received no benefit, which the researchers suggest was result of replacing other nutritious foods with the chocolate. So, enjoy dark chocolate, but in moderation and as part of a nutritious diet.
Men, take note – the quality of the chocolate matters.
Finding the right chocolate for a woman’s heart health, while avoiding the pitfalls of eating other chocolates high in fat and sugar, depends on content and value of its cocoa.
The chocolate the Swedish women ate contained higher amounts of cocoa than milk chocolate and was not as highly processed as most dark chocolate found typically in North America.
When choosing dark chocolate, seek out versions that are minimally processed and high in cocoa flavonoids for greatest antioxidant strength. Cocoa is naturally one of the world’s richest sources of antioxidant flavonoids, which are also found in various fruits and vegetables, tea and red wine.
Previous studies have explored dark chocolate as a delicious and convenient way to gain sufficient antioxidants to support cell health, cardiovascular and heart health.