When Cupid comes calling, chocolate sales skyrocket. And given the grand health claims about chocolate, that’s not such a bad thing. But how much chocolate should we eat? One study may have found a sweet spot.

Nibbling on fewer than 100 grams (3.5 ounces) of chocolate per week can protect against cardiovascular disease, and the ideal total is about 45 g weekly (a standard-sized chocolate bar weighs 43 g, or 1.55 ounces), according to a research review of 23 studies with more than 400,000 people, published in the journal Heart. Eating in this optimum range lets you take advantage of the heart-boosting antioxidants and minerals in chocolate without suffering the sugar deluge.

The investigators determined that the benefits of eating chocolate disappear at intakes over 100 g a week. To get better bang for your buck—more antioxidants and less sugar—you have to gravitate toward darker varieties with more than 50% cocoa content, and you need to practice restraint, savoring just a few squares of the rich delight.

Matthew Kadey, MS, RD

Matthew Kadey, MS, RD, is a James Beard Award–winning food journalist, dietitian and author of the cookbook Rocket Fuel: Power-Packed Food for Sport + Adventure (VeloPress 2016). He has written for dozens of magazines, including Runner’s World, Men’s Health, Shape, Men’s Fitness and Muscle and Fitness.

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