There’s an old standard for judging what doctors really think: What do they do themselves? Many doctors will apply something to their own health long before they’d recommend it to patients. This makes good sense: Your doctor wants to err on the side of caution when it comes to giving you health advice.
At this point, though, it’s a good bet that your doctor, and particularly your cardiologist, eats a small amount of chocolate every day, much as they might take a baby aspirin. That’s because many years of research is beginning to build to a consensus: Chocolate is good for your heart and your blood vessels. People who eat chocolate experience less heart disease, less heart attacks, and less strokes. While dark chocolate has gotten most of the positive attention, some recent studies seem to indicate that all varieties of chocolate made with cocoa powder (white chocolate won’t work) are heart-healthy.
Now, this isn’t a reason to throw caution to the wind and have a pint of chocolate ice cream with fudge sauce. No one knows exactly why chocolate is so good for you, though it is probably a result of two important nutritional elements in chocolate. First, cocoa contains the most potent natural antioxidant compounds of any food. And, second, dry cocoa powder is one of the best nutritional sources of magnesium.
Here’s just a sampling of what the research tells us about the value of chocolate for our heart health:
In other words, there are lots of good reasons to eat chocolate regularly – but no good reasons to overdo it. And, of course, eating chocolate works much better if you also eat a diet rich in plant foods and fiber, exercise regularly, and manage your stress.