A New Study Reveals That Scarfing Down Chocolate May Keep You Young Much Longer

The best studies are the ones that validate and justify your poor life choices. Like your decision to eat an entire Mars variety pack in one sitting. Well, good news! The brainiacs who figure these things out are saying that it’s okay to eat chocolate, especially if you want to live longer.

Consumer Reports recently list six anti-aging foods we should be eating if we want to live long enough to bury our enemies. And aside from nuts, peppers, grains and other foods we’ve always known to be healthy, chocolate made the cut thanks to its effects on telomeres, the protective caps found at the ends of our chromosomes. As we get older, telomeres fray and shrink, making us vulnerable to more health-related issues, and the process can go into overdrive if you’re suffering from diabetes or obesity. A diet rich in chocolate, however, has benefits, including slowing down the inevitable and lowering your risk of heart disease and then some:

It really may be that good for you. A study of nearly 21,000 adults published in the journal Heart found that those who ate the most chocolate (½ to 3½ ounces daily) had a 25 percent lower risk of dying from heart disease and were 23 percent less likely to have a stroke over an 11-year follow-up period. Flavonoids in chocolate may improve blood-vessel function, which can lower blood pressure and clotting.

“We’re trying to target the biology of aging to delay the onset of age-related diseases and extend the number of healthy, active, productive years,” Consumer Reports sites Nathan LeBrasseur, Ph.D., director of the Healthy Aging and Independent Living Program at the Mayo Clinic as saying. “Diet can play a major role in that.”

Obviously, chocolate isn’t exactly the healthiest food around given its high calories, saturated fat and loads of sugar, but dark chocolate, which boasts more flavonoids than milk chocolate, has less sugar, making it a healthier option. Chocolate lovers are also urged to diet, exercise and live a decent lifestyle to keep those telomeres from looking like split ends. Or you can scarf down all the chocolate you want and die an early chocolatey death. Happiness is happiness.