Researchers from the UK and Colombia say their meta-analysis of seven studies focused on chocolate and a reduction in heart disease shows eating small amounts of chocolate could reduce the risk of heart disease by 37%, and the risk of stroke by 29%. “Although overconsumption can have harmful effects, the existing studies generally agree on a potential beneficial association of chocolate consumption with a lower risk of cardiometabolic disorders. Our findings confirm this, and we found that higher levels of chocolate consumption might be associated with a one-third reduction in the risk of developing cardiovascular disease.” (Source: theheart.org)
Chocolate products can contain high levels of fat and sugar, so consuming them for a proposed health benefit must be done in moderation. Their meta-analysis did not distinguish between dark, milk, or white chocolate. Not everyone is convinced chocolate should be used as part of health regimen, “Dietary chocolate intake in many of these human studies was up to 100 g per day. Since chocolate is a rich source of sugar and saturated fat, it is questionable whether chocolate could be recommended as part of a nutrition strategy to promote vascular health,” said another researcher.
(Source: Pubmed.gov) A study conducted in 2008 using 45 healthy adults found endothelial function was improved when they consumed small doses of chocolate, and that effect might be enhanced with a sugar-free kind.
Another researcher stated some years ago, it is dark chocolate that has the potential benefit not white, ” Chocolate may adversely affect cardiovascular risk because of its effects on glucose, lipids, and body weight or potentially favour cardiovascular health through antioxidative effects of chocolate ingredients, such as flavonoids (present in dark but not white chocolate).” (Source: medscape.com)
The researchers speculated the proposed benefits of chocolate for heart health result from polyphenol content, which may increase endothelial function, meaning better circulation of blood. Endothelial cells line the inside of blood vessels. When they are in a poor state, blood flows more turbulently, and that is a problem.
A study of dark chocolate consumption and endothelial function is currently being conducted in Brazil.
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