First For Women

Yet another reason to treat yourself to chocolate


We’ve long known that the sweet stuff is good for us, but new research shows that its effects kick in right away: Scientists in the journal SciELO report that people who ate 10 grams (about a thumb’s-length piece) of 70 percent dark chocolate saw a 200 percent increase in the time between heartbeats—an indicator of heart health and fitness—within one hour, plus had significan­t reductions in blood pressure readings. Study author Ana Duarte, Ph.D., says the antioxidan­t polyphenol­s in cocoa boost activity in the parasympat­hetic nervous system, which keeps the heart relaxed and lowers blood pressure.

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