Chocolate Good for the Heart

November 12, 2012

Chocolate Good for the Heart

Eating Chocolate Daily Diminishes the Risk of Heart Disease by About 33% says Study

A new study which has been presented to the European Society of Cardiology Congress 2011 has found that chocolate is good for the heart and brain. The study which was carried out by Oscar H. Franco, MD, PhD, of the University of Cambridge in the U.K. and colleagues, was also published online at bmj.com.

However before everyone starts eating more chocolate with the aim of reducing the risk of heart disease remember that doing anything to excess can be problematic.

With chocolate it is no different. Because chocolate is sugary, high in fat and loaded with calories if you eat too much you will put the weight on. That means that you will actually be increasing your risk of heart disease. The study has found that moderate amounts of chocolate are beneficial, not chocoholic portions.

Consuming chocolate on a regular basis may reduce the risk of stroke and heart disease by about 33% according to the researchers.

Risk of Heart Disease Cut by 37% if you eat Chocolate Regularly

Franco points out that this is the first large scale project which has investigated the association between chocolate and any effects relating to heart disease. He notes that earlier research indicated that taking chocolate provided a defence against diabetes and high blood pressure. Both of these factors increase the risk of stroke and heart disease.

The work involved investigating more than 100,000 who took part in seven studies which had already been published. These earlier studies investigated if there were any links between chocolate and altered risk of stroke or heart disease.

The data from the collective reports showed that those people who ate the most chocolate reduced their risk of heart disease by 37%. They also lowered their risk of stroke by 29%, when compared with those who ate the least amount of chocolate.

We Still Don’t know the Secret Ingredient in Chocolate

In the earlier reports chocolate was considered to be anything comprising of chocolate, so chocolate cakes, chocolate bars and chocolate drinks were all included. However types of chocolate were not taken into consideration. The amount of any chocolate product consumed was the only information taken.

The studies had follow up periods of between 8 and 16 years and during that time the amount of chocolate that people ate daily was recorded.

Chocolate has ingredients which appear to be beneficial to the heart however the mechanisms of the process were not investigated. However earlier research has identified polyphenols, which are antioxidants which aid production of nitric acid in the body, as being present in chocolate. It is believed that nitric acid helps blood pressure and improves arterial blood flow.

A past president of the American Heart Association, Robert Bonow, MD, of Northwestern University in Chicago was not involved with the study but says, “If we knew what components [exerted the healthy effects], we would package them in a pill”.

Bonow continues to point out that the study is notable because it is large scale and discovery that there is a significant decline in the risk of heart disease and stroke because of an ingredient within chocolate.

Because it’s possible that there were other lifestyle factors or characteristics in the people with the greatest reduction in risk the study does not prove the link between chocolate and the reduction in heart disease. However Bonow says that eating chocolate is not bad for you, but it must be eaten in acceptable amounts. And Franco says that if you want to eat chocolate then earlier research has indicated that the greatest benefits for the heart comes from dark chocolate.

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