Eat dark chocolate

A number of studies suggest that eating dark chocolate may decrease your risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke. A study presented last year at the American Academy of Neurology’s 62nd annual meeting found that, of 44,000 participants, those who ate a weekly serving of chocolate were 22 percent less likely to suffer a stroke than those who ate no chocolate.

Another study found that those who eat a small amount of dark chocolate, about 6.7 grams a day, had lower levels of a protein in their blood that is associated with inflammation. And still other research suggests chocolate consumption may lower blood pressure, help prevent formation of artery plaques and improve blood flow.

The benefits from chocolate may come from flavonoids, compounds in chocolate thought to help protect cells against damage. They are present in higher amounts in dark chocolate. Another recent study found that dark chocolate helps to inhibit an enzyme known as ACE, which is involved in regulating blood flow. Deactivating ACE lowers blood pressure, and some blood pressure drugs specifically target the enzyme.