Easy on the salt, heavy on the veggies—all your doc’s diet tips for keeping your blood pressure in check can be a little depressing, right? Well, recent research from the Cochrane Library brings better news: Something as simple as adding a cup of hot cocoa into the mix (yes, you read that right) might have some modest heart health benefits.
In the study of 856 adults, Australian scientists found that those who ate 30-1080 mg of dark chocolate or cocoa per day—both of which are rich in antioxidants called flavanols—had slightly lower blood pressure readings than those who didn’t. It’s probably due to the fact that flavanols boost the production of nitrous oxide in your body, which in turn causes your blood vessel walls to relax and open.
So while you shouldn’t read this as an excuse to hit the vending machine for a Snickers break on a daily basis (only the high-quality cocoa and dark chocolate counts, says Nutrition Expert Tanya Zuckerbrot, R.D.), you can indulge in small amounts. Zuckerbrot has shared her favorite ways to get your flavanol fix, all under 200 calories.