According to researchers, 6.7 grams of dark chocolate per day -- a bit less than half a bar a week -- represents the ideal amount for a protective effect against inflammation and cardiovascular disease.
The findings come from one of the largest epidemiological studies ever conducted in Europe. The study focused on the complex mechanism of inflammation. Chronic inflammation is a risk factor for the development of cardiovascular diseases ranging from myocardial infarction to stroke.
The study found that people having moderate amounts of dark chocolate regularly had significantly lower levels of C-reactive protein in their blood, which indicates that their inflammatory state was considerably reduced.
Those who ate dark chocolate regularly had a 17% average reduction in C-reactive protein -- enough to decrease the risk of cardiovascular disease by one-third in women and one-fourth in men.
The findings apply to dark chocolate only. Milk chocolate does not have the same effect, since milk interferes with the absorption of polyphenols.