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Eating chocolate linked to reduced heart disease risk

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September 11, 2011

Eating high levels of chocolate could be associated with a significant reduction in the ri...

Eating high levels of chocolate could be associated with a significant reduction in the risk of certain cardiovascular disorders (Photo: Kirti Poddar on Flickr)

Chocolate lovers are unlikely ever to need encouragement to indulge, but just in case, here's some good news: researchers have found that higher levels of chocolate consumption have been associated with a 37% reduction in the risk of developing cardiovascular disease, 31% reduction in diabetes and a 29% reduction for stroke.

Scientists at the University of Cambridge in the UK analyzed the results of seven studies involving more than 114,000 participants. The studies looked at consumption of both dark and milk chocolate and included chocolate bars, chocolate drinks and chocolate snacks.

Previous research has shown that cocoa and cacao products appear to have a positive antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effect on heart health. The Cambridge analysis found a significant association between increased consumption of these products and reduced risk for any cardiovascular disease, stroke and diabetes.

Heart disease and stroke are the leading causes of death worldwide and according to World Health Organisation estimates will kill nearly 23.6 million people by 2030. Metabolic syndrome, associated with an increased risk of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease, affects about one fifth of the world's adult population.

However, these diseases are largely preventable through lifestyle changes including diet, and chocolate may provide a convenient and popular way of helping prevent these illnesses when more is understood about its effect on our health. Chocolate may also be a valuable preventive in the developing world which is experiencing epidemics of cardiometabolic diseases, especially as most cacao production takes place in these countries but the processed product is not readily available.

Of course, most commercially available chocolate contains high levels of sugar and fat which can contribute to weight gain, hypertension, diabetes and other diseases. Ways of reducing these unhealthy elements, while retaining an acceptable taste, need to be explored to make chocolate healthier.

So to the inevitable caveat ... until there are guidelines on how much chocolate should be consumed, how often and in what form, moderation is still recommended.

The research was presented at the European Society of Cardiology (ESC) Congress in Paris and has been published in the British Medical Journal.

9 Comments

The most cocoa is in pure chocolate. The purer the better. People who actually like that stuff are unlikely to have a big sweet tooth. Not craving sweet foods would logically help in preventing diabetes. So I'd say that while there is a correlation, there is no reason to assume causation.

It's the same with smoking and early death. The biggest group of smokers are working class people, and we know that the richer you are, the longer you live (unless you're a musician, in which case all bets are off).

So I'm wary of causality.

Still, milk chocolate, mmm.

Frank van Schie
12th September, 2011 @ 12:34 am PDT

People who eat chocolate don't care.... don't care = no stress = less chance of all those things mentioned!

Colin Macpherson
12th September, 2011 @ 02:46 am PDT

You know it.

Neil Geoff Berman
12th September, 2011 @ 11:07 am PDT

Oxalic acid in consumed chocolates and other foods make crystals in urinary tracts (stones).

They who have had the "operation" will agree that it's terribly unpleasant.

There are other foods to help one avoid cardiovascular disease, stroke and diabetes as well.

No sense in trading one disease for another, in my opinion.

Oxirane
12th September, 2011 @ 05:02 pm PDT

Will we never learn? Sugar makes you fat, fat doesn't. Please make sure you have your facts straight before you just automatically repeat the silliness we have been taught for so many years since Ancel Keyes cherry picked through his research and concocted the saturated fat story. Most saturated fats actually are for the better part mono unsaturated. Anybody who has ever watched prof Robert Lustig in Sugar the Bitter Truth will never dare to make that assumption again. Miss Karen Sprey who quoted the recent Cambridge research (an epidemiological one) should do some better research before she helps perpetuate this untruth that is still causing millions of people a lot of heart ache. No pun intended

James Pot
12th September, 2011 @ 05:18 pm PDT

Of course chocolate is good for your heart. And coffee is good for your sex life, and blueberry pie is good for your eyes. Do I need research for this? What's the point? Research would either confirm my long-held beliefs (good) or disprove them (not so good). Would that modify my habits? Don't be silly, I'm not giving up chocolate, coffee, or blueberry pie for any reason. In fact, I think I'll have a slice of blueberry pie right now, with a mug of coffee flavored with chocolate...

William H Lanteigne
13th September, 2011 @ 12:36 pm PDT

All I learned was that candy is dandy but liquor is quicker,

moving to oils and grease make you sicker.

They came out with this "news flash" several years ago, and now again? Here's what gives:

So. American grower/processors found methods to increase the anthocyanoids AFTER it was publicised that they supposedly reduce free-radical oxidation and benefit cardiovascular.. You don't hear Drs. extolling this. It is only the result of investors that hype reintroduces the profit incentives.

There are more efficient radical extinguishers, plus natural ones of our bodies. Saturated oils of 14 & 16 carbon lengths, myristic & palmitic, are disease related, as are trans fats and cholesterol. Biggest bang for the buck is DHA cause it makes a brain product called survivin.

Oxirane
13th September, 2011 @ 01:42 pm PDT

I'm so pleased to see this article here today, the diabetic networks have known about this for some time, we know if you cut-out the carbs and eat oils and fats you loose weight and live a longer and healthier life, you have to ask yourself why it has taken so long to get into the mainstream media. It's quite the opposite to what we have been told all these years by the health services, I was given metformin to treat my diabetes, only to discover it causes death through cardiovascular disease in 60percent of patients in under 10years, my doctor didn't know about this, I had to inform her, yet out there it's still going on.

Jack Stokes
18th September, 2011 @ 01:03 pm PDT

Cinnamon is another super food, it reduces sugar by 25percent and posesses about 80 different nutrients beneficial to humans.

Jack Stokes
2nd October, 2011 @ 06:17 pm PDT
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