HiResWe all love to hear about studies that validate the health benefits of our favorite vices, especially this time of year when our favorite temptations are at every turn.  If your Christmas list includes lots of chocolate this year, you might be interested to find out that there are some studies that have found specific health benefits of chocolate.

In two Swedish studies,  people who ate the most chocolate had a lower risk of stroke or a fatal heart attack than those who ate the least. (The “most” was about two ounces every week in one study and at least twice a week in the other.)  Now before you run out and grab a pallet of chocolate from Costco you might want to read further.  These studies were observational studies which means that they can’t directly correlate a decrease in cardiovascular disease and chocolate consumption, sorry.  One theory is that people who have chocolate once a week are most disciplined in their intake of chocolate and possibility consuming a higher quality of chocolate that has more of the healthy ingredients.

Cocoa flavanols that are found in chocolate (higher in the darker chocolates) have been shown to improve the function of blood vessels.  It is thought that these flavanols help the body synthesize  nitric acid which dilates blood vessels improving blood flow.  There has also been studies showing improvements in blood pressure with flavanol intake.

Should I eat chocolate for health?

Good question.  There does seem to be some health benefits to chocolate consumption, but as with most things, moderation is the key.  Also, most of the benefits from chocolate have come from darker chocolate that contains higher levels of flavanols.  There have been other benefits of chocolate shown in studies outside of cardiovascular effects, but I will leave that up to you to do your own homework.

With the holidays around the corner make sure to eat in moderation and plan out your food week.  If you know that you have two Christmas parties one week, skip the burger for lunch and opt for the salad.

Where to buy chocolate in Indianapolis?

I was surprised to find that Indianapolis and even Broad Ripple  are hot beds for chocolate production.

Endangered species chocolate can be found all over the country and it actually located right here in Indianapolis!  If the health benefits of chocolate are not enough for you maybe you can feel good about saving an endangered species.

If you are looking for the “rarest chocolate in the world”  check out local Chocolate for the Spirit.  You can find it at the Broad Ripple Farmer’s Market, Goose the Market or directly from their website.

If you are looking for a great chocolate selection after your next visit to Compass, stop by The Fresh Market for a wide selection of various types of chocolate. This is dangerously close and I have been known to shoot over for a chocolate bar from time to time.  My most recent bar had an interesting and tasty addition, check it out here.