April Jensen

The pandemic may have you buying — and henceforth eating — more chocolate than usual. According to a recent study in the European Journal of Preventative Cardiology, that may not be entirely a bad thing, at least for your heart health.

In this study, it found that eating chocolate once a week could help keep the heart’s blood vessels healthy, lowering your risk of coronary artery disease. Let’s break it down a bit.

While chocolate is full of unhealthy sugar and fats, it also contains some heart-healthy nutrients:

■ Flavonoids

■ Polyphenols

■ Stearic acid

■ Methylxanthines

All of these things may help reduce inflammation, prevent blood clots and increase good cholesterol. In other words, it can be good for your heart.

As with all things, be sure to keep moderation in mind. While the study does not indicate how much chocolate may be good for you, it’s safe to assume you should exercise caution when it comes to quantities. Eating a lot of chocolate adds extra calories, fat and sugar to your diet, which can result in obesity, diabetes and other chronic conditions.

Assuming you do not have allergies or conditions where eating chocolate could be harmful, and that you live a relatively healthy lifestyle, try opting for chocolate of the dark variety, since you have to eat a large quantity of milk chocolate to get the benefits of one bar of dark chocolate. A general rule of thumb is the higher percentage of cocoa, the better.

If you are interested in adding chocolate once a week to your diet, be sure to contact your doctor to make sure it is right for you.

April Jensen is a nurse practitioner at the new Aurora Health Center in Menominee. Her office can be reached at 906-863-4100.