At last a good news story about what we eat, or more specifically, about what we like to eat. According to research published recently in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology, eating chocolate at least once a week is linked with a reduced risk of heart disease.
In the past, clinical studies have shown that chocolate is beneficial for both blood pressure and the lining of blood vessels. The new study suggests that chocolate helps to keep the heart’s blood vessels healthy.
The researchers conducted a combined analysis of studies from the past five decades examining the association between chocolate consumption and coronary artery disease. The analysis included data from over 300,000 participants who reported their chocolate consumption. About 14,000 participants in the study ultimately developed coronary heart disease. Compared with consuming chocolate less than once a week, eating chocolate more than once a week was associated with an 8% decreased risk of coronary heart disease.
Chocolate contains heart-healthy nutrients such as flavonoids, methylxanthines, polyphenols, and steric acid. These substances may reduce inflammation and increase good (HDL) cholesterol.
The study did not examine whether any particular type of chocolate is more beneficial or whether there is an ideal portion size. So, while chocolate appears to be promising for reducing the occurrence of coronary heart disease, it will require more research to determine how much and what kind of chocolate could be recommended.
Not to be spoilsports, but the doctors who conducted the study warned against overeating. Eating large quantities of chocolate products laden with calories, sugar, milk and fat, is not a recommended path to improved health.
Photo, posted February 22, 2014, courtesy of Jan David Hanrath via Flickr.