Chocolate and a Healthy Heart

Just when you thought chocolate couldn’t get any better, a new study’s findings might make chocoholics consider buying the stuff by the case. The study showed that people who eat a decent amount of chocolate, around two candy bars’ worth daily, have an 11 percent lower risk of stroke and heart attack than chocophobics, and a 25 percent lower risk of dying from heart disease.

The Chocolate Study

The information came from long-term British research involving roughly 21,000 adults from various parts of Europe whose chocolate consumption, health and lifestyle habits were tracked for 12 years. The biggest chocolate-eaters admitted to eating about half a standard American candy bar worth of chocolate. The lowest consumers ate only 1.1 grams daily. The people who imbibed the most tended to experience fewer strokes and heart attacks. More shocking, however, was that they also had lower body mass indexes, systolic blood pressure, diabetes rates and inflammation. It also appears that they were more likely to exercise.

chocolate-trufflesThese discoveries back up the findings of a wealth of similar studies. In fact, the authors of this most recent study combined their findings with those of nine others, a meta-analysis that showed outcomes for over 159,800 participants, in order to fortify and give additional context for their own discoveries.This showed that compared to people who spurn the delicious confection, people who frequently revel in its sensory delights were 25 percent less likely to experience a variety of cardiovascular problems, and they were also 45 percent less likely to die of said problems.However, Dr. Farzaneh Sorond from Boston’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital suggests that observational studies warrant trials to look deeper into the miracles of chocolatey goodness. Is it the chocolate itself, or is it something else about it that promotes better health? If it is the chocolate, then what’s the specific feature that offers such spectacular benefits?

Why is Chocolate so Heart Healthy?

Dr. Sorond says that studies like these are unable to give a clear picture of why chocolate promotes good health. She stated that so far, the question of causality has remained unanswered, and it must be determined through additional in-depth study.
Dr. Sorond also pointed out that the recent study’s authors neglected to consider grades of chocolate and their cacao content. Indeed, most of the chocolate used in the study was good, old-fashioned milk chocolate, which is notoriously low in cacao flavonoids. For a long time, it was widely held by more practical minds that these flavonoids were the only thing that made chocolate worth eating.Naturally, this finding makes the study’s results that much more baffling. According to Dr. Sorond, a lot of the sweet, milky sustenance doesn’t necessarily even contain cacao.

Should I Eat Even More Chocolate?

This makes researchers uncertain whether the flavonoids are actually providing the bulk of the benefits for chocolate-lovers. Many other factors could be involved. For instance, if increased chocolate consumption is associated with higher socioeconomic status, that could play a role. This highlights a need for further research.
Fortunately, such research is currently underway. However, Dr. Sorond notes that the results could take up to five years to become available. While you’re waiting, the best thing you can do is kick back and indulge in a bar of chocolatey bliss. After all, there haven’t been any studies showing that chocolate is bad for the heart.