Protecting your heart may be as simple and easy as popping in a funny DVD and cozying up next to a box of chocolates. Two new studies show that laughter and chocolate may truly be some of the best medicine—at least when it comes to heart health.
In one study, presented at the European Society of Cardiology Congress, researchers at the University of Maryland took a look at what happened to people's blood vessels when they were exposed to amusing situations and nerve-wracking situations.
They observed that, as people viewed an amusing movie clip, their blood vessels widened, but as they viewed a hectic movie clip, their blood vessels narrowed.
All in all, the scientists witnessed a 30-50% discrepancy in blood vessel diameter between people watching the two clips.
Their conclusion was that exposing people to humorous circumstances, like those found in a comical movie was good for their hearts because it caused their blood vessels to dilate. Blood vessel widening promotes overall heart health because it increases blood flow and decreases the risk for plaque buildup on artery walls.
In a different study, reported by the New York Times, researchers from the University of Cambridge analyzed the findings of several separate studies done on chocolate and its effect on heart disease. All told, the studies combined to have over 100,000 participants.
According to the researchers, chocolate was a winner in reducing heart disease risk as people who ate the highest quantity of chocolate were 37% less likely to develop a cardiovascular disorder.
The authors of the study were quick to note that unrestrained binging on candy is not a good idea. Rather, they urge moderation when it comes to chocolate consumption. They also suggest that people stick to dark chocolate as it has been proven to be the healthiest kind.
The findings of this study were published in the British Medical Journal.