Sweet! Eat This and You'll Live Longer
Eat chocolate. Live longer! How great is that?
Eating chocolate regularly and in moderate amounts could extend your life by as much as a year, reports the British Medical Journal. Researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health found that people who eat one to three candy bars a month have a 36 percent lower risk of death than those who don't eat chocolate.
What's the magic ingredient in chocolate? Antioxidant phenols, which are also found in red wine, are thought to protect against heart disease and cancer. They do this by reducing free radicals, which are known to damage cells and DNA and in turn cause illness. In addition, the researchers think chocolate--and the cocoa from which it is derived--might restrict the formation of the type of cholesterol that damages the heart. It may also help lower your blood pressure and keep your blood flowing freely.
The BBC News Online reports that the study examined the health records of 7,841 men who entered Harvard University as undergraduate students between 1916 and 1950. Even after adjusting for other risk factors, such as smoking, those who ate a chocolate candy bar one to three times a month lived about one year longer than those who never ate candy or ate sweets three or more times a week.
But here's the gotcha: Chocolate IS high in calories. If you eat too much, you'll get fat. And that becomes a risk factor for heart disease. "As with most things in life, moderation seems to be paramount," the researchers wrote in the British Medical Journal when they published their study results.
What moderation? The average American eats almost 15 pounds of chocolate a year.