A Chocolate a Day = The Heart Doctor Away
Reported August 30, 2011
(Ivanhoe Newswire) – The World Health Organization predicts that by 2030, nearly
23.6 million people will die from heart disease. However, lifestyle and diet are
key factors in preventing heart disease. According to this study, high levels of
chocolate consumption might be associated with a one third reduction in the risk
of developing heart disease.
This study confirms the findings of many existing studies that generally agree
on a potential link between heart health and chocolate consumption. However, the
authors stress that further studies are needed to test whether chocolate
actually causes this reduction or if it can be explained by some other
unmeasured (confounding) factor.
A number of recent studies have shown that eating chocolate has a positive
influence on human health due to its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory
properties. This includes reducing blood pressure and improving insulin
sensitivity (a stage in the development of diabetes). However, the evidence
about how eating chocolate affects your heart still remains unclear. So, Dr
Oscar Franco and colleagues from the University of Cambridge carried out a large
scale review of the existing evidence to evaluate the effects of eating
chocolate on cardiovascular events like heart attack and stroke.
They analyzed the results of seven studies, involving over 100,000 participants
with and without existing heart disease. For each study, they compared the group
with the highest chocolate consumption against the group with the lowest
Five studies reported a beneficial link between higher levels of chocolate
consumption and the risk of cardiovascular events. They found that the highest
levels of chocolate consumption were associated with a 37% reduction in
cardiovascular disease and a 29% reduction in stroke compared with lowest
levels. No significant reduction was found in relation to heart failure.
The studies did not differentiate between dark or milk chocolate and included
consumption of chocolate bars, drinks, biscuits and desserts.
The authors say the findings need to be interpreted with caution, in particular
because commercially available chocolate is very calorific (around 500 calories
for every 100 grams) and eating too much of it could lead to weight gain, risk
of diabetes and heart disease.
However, they conclude that given the health benefits of eating chocolate,
initiatives to reduce the current fat and sugar content in most chocolate
products should be explored.
SOURCE: British Medical Journal, published online August 27, 2010