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Could Dark Chocolate Be Good For Your Eyes?

October 28 is National Chocolate Day! You probably didn’t need any other reason (or even a holiday) to indulge in a sweet treat (we know we don’t…), but recent research shows that dark chocolate may actually offer a temporary (and slight) increase in visual quality.

Chocolate contains compounds called flavanols, which seemed to have a positive effect on the eyesight of 30 healthy young adults in a recent study. Although the result was small, it was significant, but study authors made it clear that chocolate should not yet be recommended as a medicine.

“The duration of these effects and their influence in real-world performance await further testing,” read a statement from the team, led by Dr. Jeff Rabin of the University of the Incarnate Word in San Antonio, Texas.

Because previous studies had shown that antioxidant flavanols in dark chocolate may have helped increase blood flow to the nervous system, helping heart function and even possibly preserving the aging brain, the investigators wondered if the same might be true of the eyes. Studying 30 healthy adults with an average age of 26, the team asked participants to eat either a 1.5 oz. Trader Joe’s 72 percent Cacao Dark Chocolate bar or a similar-sized Trader Joe’s Crispy Rice Milk Chocolate bar. The bars were blind-tested with labels removed so that participants remained unaware which type of chocolate they were consuming. After two hours, each participant was given a vision test using standard eye charts.

When tested, those who had been served the dark chocolate showed “small enhancements in visual acuity and large-letter contrast,” the research stated.

New York City-based ophthalmologist Mark Fromer, Lenox Hill Hospital, explained to Web MD that “visual acuity is a key component in the standard eye-glasses prescription test, where patients ‘specifically identify the letters on the eye chart.’

“And contrast sensitivity is ‘the ability to distinguish an object as the lighting is altered in intensity.’”

While the results clearly aren’t conclusive, why not err on the side of caution and treat yourself a little dark chocolate today?

Can’t decide where to start? Clean Eating has a list of 26 health chocolate options that look delicious:

Enjoy! Your eyes may thank you!