Feeling guilty about chomping the ears — and probably more — off that chocolate Easter bunny?


A recent study at Scotland’s Glasgow University found that chocolate consumption improves blood flow and might reduce the risk of strokes. That echoed previous research, which suggests that something so good can be good for you.

“In general, the story for chocolate itself is quite promising,” said David Jacobs, Mayo professor of public health at the University of Minnesota.

But — and you knew there was a “but” coming, right? — “the caution is in the way we present chocolate in our culture, often mixed with a lot of fat,” Jacobs said.

Basically, chocolate + nuts = good, chocolate + caramel and other sugar-laden stuff = bad.

Other recent studies have shown a 37 percent reduction in risk for heart disease (Cambridge University), improved cognition in older people (University of L’Aquila in Italy) and even increased longevity (Harvard).

Most studies credit flavonoids, beneficial antioxidants found in cacao plants. Jacobs points to the plant’s seeds, which have the same kind of nutritional value as legumes, whole grains and other seeds, such as nuts.

That’s why pairing chocolate with nuts is so much healthier than fat- and sugar-laden additives.

“If you eat a lot of sugar, it might block the opportunity to take advantage of these other compounds,” he said. “The sugar doesn’t supply much of anything — other than sugar.” □