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Chocolate the Key to Preventing Heart Disease?

Jun 16, 2015 03:33 PM EDT

(Photo : larisabozhikova / Fotolia)

Chocolate may be the key to lowering heart disease and stroke risk, according to a new study.

There doesn't seem to be any evidence for cutting out chocolate to lower the risk of cardiovascular disease, researchers say in a press release, but eating up to 100 grams of chocolate every day, on the other hand, is reportedly beneficial.

During the study, researchers followed about 21,000 adults taking part in the EPIC-Norfolk study, which is tracking the impact of diet on the long term health of 25,000 men and women in Norfolk, England. The team also reviewed previous research with evidence of the links between chocolate and cardiovascular disease, involving almost 158,000 people - including the EPIC study participants.

They followed study participants for nearly 12 years, during which time 3,013 (14%) people experienced either an episode of fatal or non-fatal coronary heart disease or stroke.

Around one in five (20%) participants said they did not eat any chocolate, while others ate seven grams on average, with some eating up to 100 grams.

Those that ate the most amount of chocolate were associated with younger age and lower weight (BMI), systolic blood pressure and inflammatory proteins, all of which are good signs of cardiovascular health.

Eating more chocolate was also associated with higher energy intake and a diet containing more fat and carbs and less protein and alcohol.

The calculations showed that compared with those who ate no chocolate, higher intake was linked to an 11 percent lower risk of cardiovascular disease and a 25 percent lower risk of associated death. And based on the reviewed studies, regular chocolate eating was associated with a 25 percent lower risk of any episode of cardiovascular disease and a 45 percent lower risk of associated death.

In addition, chocolate consumption was also associated with a nine percent lower risk of hospital admission or death as a result of coronary heart disease, after taking account of dietary factors.

"Cumulative evidence suggests that higher chocolate intake is associated with a lower risk of future cardiovascular events," the researchers said in the journal Heart.

"This may indicate that not only flavonoids, but also other compounds, possibly related to milk constituents, such as calcium and fatty acids, may provide an explanation for the observed association," they suggest.

For more great nature science stories and general news, please visit our sister site, Headlines and Global News (HNGN).

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