This time of year can be a battle for the health conscious, what with so many Christmas cookies, candy canes and hot cocoa varieties available on a daily basis. It can be heartbreaking to resist that bowl of Lindt chocolate truffles on your coworker’s desk, but the splurge probably isn’t worth it in the long run, right? Well, not so fast — being a chocoholic may not be all bad. A new study out of The University of Aberdeen published in the BMJ journal Heart shows a correlation between eating more chocolate and having a lower risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke.
More than 21,000 people in England were analyzed for their eating and exercise habits, as well as lifestyle variables. Those who ate the most chocolate (16 to 100 grams per day, or about 1/2 to 3.5 oz.) had a 14 percent lower risk of developing cardiovascular disease and a 23 percent lower risk of stroke than those who ate less chocolate. There was also a correlation between more chocolate and a lower body mass index (BMI), waist-to-hip ratio, systolic blood pressure, inflammatory proteins and diabetes.
But take it all with a grain of salt (mmm… salted chocolate…). There are many, many variables that may come into play in a study like this. Dark and milk chocolate weren’t differentiated, for instance, and any of the other factors (like exercising regularly or having a lower BMI) could also be responsible for the lower risk of heart disease. So as usual, the disclaimer here is everything in moderation, down to how much you let studies influence your actions.
The main takeaway at this point is that you probably don’t need to avoid chocolate in the long run. “I think a little chocolate is okay for a reasonably healthy adult without major risk factors, or at least not too many of them,” the study’s author, Phyo Myint, told Forbes. So treat yo self to a square a day from that chocolate gift box you won at the office Christmas party — it might be better for you than you think.
(h/t Forbes; Photos via Scott Olson/Getty Images and Junko Kimura/Getty Images. Featured photo via Matt Cardy/Getty Images)