Go ahead. Indulge your inner chocoholic in a guilt-free zone, armed with the knowledge that one small square of chocolate a day could reduce your risk of heart disease.
Researchers at the German Institute of Human Nutrition released the results of a study indicating that people with a daily intake of chocolate averaging 0.3 ounces (7.5 grams) had lower blood pressure and a 39 percent lower risk of heart attack than those who ate less chocolate.
The study looked at the dietary and health habits of 19,357 people, aged 35 to 65, over a period of 10 years and concluded that if people in the group that ate the least amount of chocolate increased their intake by 0.2 ounces (6 grams) a day, they could expect 85 fewer heart attacks and strokes per 10,000 people in a period of 10 years.
Dr. Brian Buijsse, the doctor who led the research, said, “If the 39 percent lower risk is generalized to the general population, the number of avoidable heart attacks and strokes could be higher because the absolute risk in the general population is higher.”
Six grams of chocolate is equivalent to about one small square of a 3.5 (100 grams) ounce bar. White was the chocolate of choice for two percent of the study participants, 24 percent chose dark, and 57 percent went with milk chocolate.
Researchers think the flavanols in cocoa could be why chocolate seems to be good for blood pressure and heart health, and since there is more cocoa in dark chocolate, dark chocolate may have a greater effect.
Sounds wonderful, but there is, as always, a note of caution. Dr. Buijsse warns that eating chocolate shouldn’t increase your overall intake of calories or reduce your consumption of healthy foods. “Small amounts of chocolate may help to prevent heart disease, but only if it replaces other energy-dense foods, such as snacks, in order to keep body weight stable,” he said.
Duly noted. One square a day. Would someone please pass the chocolate…
The full press release and details of the study can be accessed here: German Institute of Human Nutrition Potsdam-Rehbrücke
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