"Chocolate is still very calorie-dense, and there's fat and sugar that comes along with it, so moderation is a very important part of the story," Mittleman said.
Chocolate in Sweden is held to different quality standards than in the United States, but there are still characteristics you should look for when choosing chocolate, Mittleman said.
The chocolate measured in this study was mostly high-quality dark chocolate without a lot of added sugar, though it was commercially available, he said.
And the higher the cocoa content, the better. The cocoa content of the chocolate consumed by the women in this study was about 30 percent whereas, in the United States, dark chocolate is only required to contain 15 percent cocoa solids.
And 20 to 30 grams would be about half-to-two-thirds of an average American candy bar, Mittleman said.
The heart benefit of dark chocolate could be the result of any number of factors, including more flavonoids, or antioxidants, that can smooth heart function.
"It would make sense that having a higher intake of flavonoid-containing foods to reduce blood pressure would have a positive effect," said Dr. Eugene Storozynsky, an assistant professor in the heart failure transplant unit at the University of of Rochester Medical School.
Mittleman said there's no reason that the benefits of chocolate wouldn't extend to men as well, but this still needs to be confirmed.
Linda Van Horn, immediate past chair of the American Heart Association's Nutrition Committee and professor in the department of preventive medicine at Northwestern University's Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago, said people shouldn't misinterpret the study findings as a carte blanche to satisfy their sweet tooth.
"This is not an 'eat all you want' take-home message; rather it's that eating a little dark chocolate can be healthful, as long as other adverse behaviors do not occur, such as weight ga
All rights reserved