DEAR PEGGY: I have always loved chocolate, so sometimes I just have to have some. Is there any truth to the idea that chocolate is good for you? —D.J., New Hope, Minnesota
"Take two bites of chocolate and call me in the morning," is one prescription people have longed to hear. And it appears as though that hope may not be as farfetched as it seems.
Recent studies identified properties in dark chocolate that can help lower blood pressure and actually increase antioxidants.
After consuming about 3.5 ounces of dark chocolate every day for 2 weeks, study participants experienced a decrease in blood pressure of 5 systolic points (the upper blood pressure number) and 2 diastolic points (the lower number). These decreases are credited to polyphenols found in dark chocolate. Other studies, however, found that drinking milk with dark chocolate or eating milk chocolate did not increase blood antioxidants. Researchers suspect that the body can't absorb chocolate's antioxidants when they're bound with milk proteins.
Since the verdict is out regarding chocolate's health benefits, I'd advise you to enjoy it in moderation. Chocolate is a calorie-dense food, and too many calories can lead to weight gain.