This treat from Hotel Chocolat is made with 70% cocoa.

Attention Easter bunnies: This year’s baskets may be extra heavy, so please be mindful of OSHA rules regarding back-injury prevention.

In case you hadn’t heard, a new study suggests that small doses of chocolate every day could decrease your risk of having a heart attack or stroke by nearly 40 percent.


Let’s pause for a minute and think about the last people on earth who need to hear this.

I honestly don’t believe one little square of chocolate a day – about an eighth of your standard candy bar – can make that big of a difference. Yet every Valentine’s Day we’ve been told a tiny bit dark chocolate a day might be good for us, and here it is again, this time packaged in Easter pastels.

This latest study was conducted by German researchers and is to be published today in the respected European Heart Journal. The researchers followed nearly 20,000 people over eight years and found that people who had an average of six grams of chocolate per day – or about one square of a chocolate bar – had a 39 percent lower risk of either a heart attack or stroke.


My concern is that those who can least afford to increase their chocolate intake will see this as a green-light to do so.  After all, if one square can do that much good, why not a whole candy bar, or four?

Yes, dark chocolate contains flavonols, which help the muscles in blood vessels widen, which leads to a drop in blood pressure. But flavonols are also found in red wine, veggies and fruits, including onions, broccoli, berries and tea.

It’s a safe bet that a study proving people who consumed one raw, whole onion each day lowered their risk of heart attack and stroke by 40 percent wouldn’t get as much attention.

In the German study, none of 20,000 had a history of heart problems; they were all adults, ages 35-65 who filled out questionnaires about their diet and exercise habits. Those who ate an average of 7.5 grams of chocolate a day – again, a small bite of your average, 100-gram chocolate bar – had a lower incidence of heart attack or stroke than those who consumed only an average of 1.7 grams a day.

What you won’t hear about this study: Only bits of dark chocolate bars containing at least 70 percent cacao should be consumed. Good luck finding this bitter, more expensive, high-fat product in your local grocery store.

I don’t mean to be harsh. It’s just that most of what I’ve heard about this study today is that “chocolate is good for you,” and that’s just a sin and a disgrace. People, you can’t trust everything you hear, and certainly not everything you read.

Except this blog, of course.

Now go dye some onions for Easter.

Strength is the capacity to break a chocolate bar into four pieces with your bare hands - and then eat just one of the pieces. ~ Judith Viorst


Leslie J. Ansley is an award-winning journalist and entrepreneur who blogs daily for TheRoot. She lives in Raleigh, NC.