Chocolate may be good for the heart

People who eat up to 100g of chocolate per day may have a lower risk of developing heart disease or suffering a stroke, a new study has found.

UK researchers looked at almost 21,000 adults taking part in an ongoing diet study. They also carried out a major review of all of the available published evidence on the potential link between chocolate and cardiovascular disease. This review involved almost 160,000 people.

The 21,000 people in the first study were monitored for an average of 12 years. Four in five of them consumed between 7g and 100g of chocolate on a daily basis.

The researchers noted that those who consumed the highest amounts of chocolate tended to be younger, with a lower body mass index (BMI) and lower blood pressure. They also exercised more and were less likely to have diabetes. All of these health behaviours are good for the heart.

The study found that those who ate higher amounts of chocolate (100g), had an 11% reduced risk of cardiovascular disease and a 25% reduced risk of cardiovascular-related death.

They also had a 9% reduced risk of being admitted to hospital or dying as a result of coronary heart disease.

Those consuming 100g of chocolate per day also had a 23% lower risk of stroke, even after other potential risk factors were taken into account.

Among the other studies that were reviewed, the researchers also found that the risk of coronary heart disease and stroke was significantly reduced among regular consumers of chocolate.

Overall, it was linked with a 25% reduced risk of cardiovascular disease and a 45% reduced risk of related death.

The researchers acknowledged that this is an observational study so no conclusions about cause and effect can be drawn, however they said that the ‘cumulative evidence suggests that higher chocolate intake is associated with a lower risk of future cardiovascular events'.

They also noted that as milk chocolate was more commonly eaten by the participants, it may have beneficial effects even though it is considered to be less ‘healthy' than dark chocolate.

"This may indicate that not only flavonoids, but also other compounds, possibly related to milk constituents, such as calcium and fatty acids, may provide an explanation for the observed association," they said.

They added that there ‘does not appear to be any evidence to say that chocolate should be avoided in those who are concerned about cardiovascular risk'.

Details of these findings were published in the journal, Heart.

For more information on heart health, see our Heart Disease Clinic here

 

[Posted: Wed 17/06/2015]


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