Here’s some sweet news. In a 2012 systematic review published in Cochrane Library, researchers looked at 20 trials involving more than 800 people meant to investigate the effect of cocoa flavanols on blood pressure. The findings? Cocoa powder or flavanol-rich chocolate had a small, but statistically significant effect on blood pressure, lowering it, on average, 2-3 mm Hg in the short term.
“Although we don't yet have evidence for any sustained decrease in blood pressure, the small reduction we saw over the short term might complement other treatment options and might contribute to reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease,” lead researcher Karin Ried of the National Institute of Integrative Medicine in Melbourne, Australia, said in a statement.
While the findings aren’t a hall pass to pig out on Valentine’s Day candy (which is, more often than not, also loaded with sugar), go ahead and enjoy a little dark chocolate in the name of your heart.