Study participants in the high consumption group – those who ate 15 to 100 grams of chocolate a day in the form of everything from Mars bars to hot cocoa – had lower heart disease and stroke risk than those who didn’t consume the confection.
Researchers noted that higher levels of chocolate consumption were also associated with good health by other measures, including BMI (body mass index), waist-hip ratio, systolic blood pressure, and inflammatory proteins.
The research also involves meta-data from approximately 158,000 people.
The research team acknowledged that the findings were a big surprise because they were absolutely sure that the health benefits could only apply to dark chocolate, not milk chocolate. It’s not only delicious, it’s also filled with plenty of health benefits, studies show.
“Regardless of this study’s findings, if someone enjoys chocolate, it is fine to have a small every day”, Lichtenstein says.
Still, this doesn’t seem to affect the participants’ heart health, according to the authors of the study.
Another question mark was to be found in “reverse causation”: participants who knew they had cardiovascular problems may have followed a healthier diet and eaten less chocolate.
In comparison with the non-consumers of chocolate, they had an 11% lower risk of cardiovascular disease and 25% lower risk of premature death. All these variables led to a reduced heart risk.
“Cumulative evidence suggests that higher chocolate intake is associated with a lower risk of future cardiovascular events”, the researchers said in the journal Heart. More often than not, milk chocolate is thought to be unhealthy because it packs so much calories and sugar in a small serving.
This study came up with stronger results. “It’s an odds game, and the more you put in your favor, the better your odds are”.
Researchers didn’t find any evidence supporting the dietary elimination of chocolate to lower the risk of cardiovascular disease, they said in a press release.
What’s particularly interesting is that while previous studies – some of which have also made the observational link between chocolate consumption and heart health – focused on flavones, the antioxidant compounds found in the cocoa bean, the Heart study did make the distinction between grades of chocolate. High doses of chocolate may considerably lower risk of cardiovascular disease and associated mortality, a new study suggests.
The study measured more than 21-thousand people.