We have to admit our eyes light up any time a scientific study supports our insatiable chocolate cravings. Dark chocolate (consumed in moderation) has long been on the radar as a heart-healthy food choice, but a recent study takes that even further, finding the dessert favorite to be linked to decreased risk of a common and serious type of irregular heart rhythm.
Scientific American highlighted the study from the journal Heart, which found that people who eat chocolate one to three times per month, or a small amount every week, were approximately 10% less likely to be diagnosed with atrial fibrillation (which affects at least 2.7 million people in the U.S. alone) than those who abstained from eating chocolate. "As part of a healthy diet, moderate intake of chocolate is a healthy snack choice," says the study's lead author Elizabeth Mostofsky of the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston. Mostofsky and her colleagues note that cocoa's high volume of flavanols, an anti-inflammatory compound with antioxidant properties, could be the reason chocolate consumption is associated with a healthier heart. According to the American Heart Association, atrial fibrillation increases one's risk of blood clots, strokes, and heart failure. So while the data presents correlation, not causation, it's worth considering adding a bit of dark chocolate indulgence back into your diet—for the sake of good health.
To help you on your way to a healthier heart, we've rounded up 15 of the best dark chocolate bars on the market. After all, doctor's orders.