It's official -- chocolate linked to heart health

August 29, 2011

High levels of chocolate consumption might be associated with a one third reduction in the risk of developing heart disease, finds a study published in the British Medical Journal today.

The findings confirm results of existing studies that generally agree on a potential beneficial link between and . 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.

The findings will be presented at the Congress in Paris on Monday 29 August 2011.

The World Health Organisation 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, says the paper.

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 (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 and stroke.

They analysed 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 consumption. Differences in study design and quality were also taken into account to minimise bias.

Five studies reported a beneficial link between higher levels of chocolate consumption and the risk of . 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 .

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.

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Artificial heart design features porous plastic foam

October 2, 2015

Artificial hearts with multiple moving parts increase the chance of failure; scientists have worked up a device which is a single piece. No less interesting is the material they used; the team is taking a page out of soft ...

What powers the pumping heart?

September 25, 2015

Researchers at the Ted Rogers Centre for Heart Research have uncovered a treasure trove of proteins, which hold answers about how our heart pumps—a phenomenon known as contractility.

Sticky gel helps stem cells heal rat hearts

September 24, 2015

A sticky, protein-rich gel created by Johns Hopkins researchers appears to help stem cells stay on or in rat hearts and restore their metabolism after transplantation, improving cardiac function after simulated heart attacks, ...

1 comment

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

not rated yet Aug 29, 2011
Blah Blah Blah
Bottom line eat chocolate and live.
Geesh Bunch of guys so smart their a bunch
of dummies..."duh uh we ain't sure what this means
Don't jump to no conclusions better study on it a while longer."
We'll all be dead by the time these folks ever figure anything out...
Enjoy your life. Do it in moderation but enjoy Man...!

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.