Sweet News: Chocolate May Help Your Heart

THURSDAY, July 23, 2020 (HealthDay News) — If the stress of the current pandemic has you reaching for chocolate, a new review may give you just the excuse you need.

The study found that people who ate one or more servings of chocolate a week were up to 10% less likely to have heart disease than people who ate less or no chocolate weekly.

Unfortunately, these findings don’t mean you can eat chocolate with abandon.

“Chocolate contains several nutrients that may benefit the heart,” said study author Dr. Chayakrit Krittanawong, from Baylor College of Medicine in Houston.

But, he noted, “This is an observational study, meaning we cannot conclude [a cause-and-effect] relationship that eating chocolate can prevent or reduce heart disease. However, we can see some scientific signals that eating chocolate is probably beneficial to the heart in certain circumstances.”

Plus, the calories, sugar, milk and fat in commercial chocolate products need to be considered in the context of your diet, especially for those who are obese or who have diabetes, Krittanawong said.

Chocolate may help keep the heart humming by contributing to health of the blood vessels. It contains a number of beneficial nutrients like flavonoids that may lower inflammation and increase good (HDL) cholesterol, the researchers said.

The new review, published July 23 in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology, included six studies with more than 336,000 people. Most were from the United States, almost 69,000 were from Sweden and 1,200 were from Australia.

The participants’ health was followed an average of almost nine years. More than 14,000 developed heart disease and almost 4,700 had a heart attack.

The researchers noted that there were some limitations to the review. They weren’t able to control for lifestyle factors, such as physical activity. And they didn’t have specific data on the types of chocolate people ate.

That’s important because the type of chocolate likely matters.

Cardiologist Dr. John Osborne, from State of the Heart Cardiology in Dallas, reviewed the findings and explained, “When you make milk chocolate, you end up with mostly fat and sugar with modest amounts of chocolate.”

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