New Study Says Eat Chocolate, Reduce Risk of Heart Disease

chocolateA new study, conducted by researchers at the department of public health and primary care at the University of Cambridge in the UK, shows that eating chocolate regularly can decrease one’s risk of heart disease. The study of more than 114,000 people found that the individuals who consumed the most chocolate on a regular basis reduced their risk for heart disease by 37%, risk of diabetes by 31%, and their risk of stroke by 29%.

This paper says it is estimated that by 2030, almost 23.6 million people will die as a result of cardiovascular disorders. It also says about twenty percent of the global adult population are believed to have metabolic syndrome–a cluster of factors associated with an increased risk of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. One of the main lifestyle factors involved in the genesis, prevention, and control of these disorders is diet. Therefore, researchers are very interested in foods that assist in promoting a healthy cardiovascular system and cocoa products have been found to do so in many studies. They contain flavonol, which is known to have an encouraging potential in preventing cardiometabolic disorders.

The study is a meta-analysis, which is a literature review of several clinical studies that is done with the scientific rigor that we require from experimental research.  Out of 4576 possible papers, seven met the inclusion criteria for this study, six cohort studies and one cross sectional study.  As each of the studies reported amounts of chocolate consumption differently, the authors chose to compare lowest to highest chocolate consumption.  A limitation of the study was that it was observational, and not a clinical trial that compared the results of chocolate consumption with a placebo.

Dr. Emma Patterson commented that “This meta-analysis of observational studies found that moderate chocolate consumption was associated with a significant reduction in cardiovascular disease. A small amount of dark chocolate regularly is part of a heart-healthy diet. Personally, as a self-proclaimed, ‘chocolatarian’, this makes me very happy.”

The authors of the study point out that the amount of chocolate needed to reap the health benefits has not yet been determined and that they do not advise limitless consumption of chocolate as it is high in sugar and calories, which can be harmful to the waistline and health. The study’s findings were published in the Aug. 29 online edition of the British Medical Journal and were presented at the European Society of Cardiology Congress in France last month.

You can learn more about how chocolate has been found to be beneficial to heart and vascular health by visiting the Cleveland Clinic’s site here.

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