Chocolate Truffles may help fight heart disease

Warning Chocoholics: Do not read this article alone. You should have someone nearby to pinch and/or spoon-feed you.

Ladies, give it up; you no longer need to hide or defend your intense love affair with the bean. Eat your chocolate, especially if you’re a spry-n-sexy senior, because new research says it’ll do your body good. Real good.

A ten-year study found that just one serving of chocolate per week eaten by women over age 70 made them 35 percent less likely to die from heart disease, and a whopping 60 percent less likely to die from heart failure. Like. Wow.

Flavanoids, the there-is-a-god miracle stuff that moves chocolate from movie candy designation to a bona fide superfood, can among other things, help the proper function of blood vessels and regulate blood pressure, and decrease inflammation in the body, which is often the main cause of heart disease, hypertension and heart failure. For women over age 50, heart disease is the known as the silent killer; it’s the number one cause of death—taking the lives of more women than all the cancers combined.

Though much of chocolate’s health benefits, especially for women,  have been buzzing mainstream in the last several years, this study broke new ground as researchers followed more than 1200 women over the course of ten years. Almost 90 women who reported rarely eating chocolate during the study ended up hospitalized or died from heart disease. Compared with the frequent cocoa eaters, only 65 of those women died or were hospitalized due to heart disease.

The study authors encourage moderation though, as chocolate often comes with lots of sugar, dairy and other unhealthy ingredients than can contribute to health problems. Using unsweetened cacao powder to make hot chocolate is an easy way to get the good stuff in you and be able to regulate your sugar intake.

So there you have it. I think I know how Oprah feels when she’s gives  her whole audience a trip to Australia. You get to eat choc-oh-late! You get to eat chocolate! And you get to eat chocolate! Yep, a girl could get used to this.

Reference: Internal Medicine; “Habitual Chocolate Intake and Vascular Disease: A Prospective Study of Clinical Outcomes in Older Women”; Joshua R. Lewis; Richard L. Prince; Kun Zhu; Amanda Devine; Peter L. Thompson; Jonathan M. Hodgson; November 2010

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Photo: Jill Ettinger