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Eating 100g of chocolate a day linked to reduced CVD risk

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Consumption of up to 100g of chocolate every day is linked to lowered risk of heart disease and stroke, according to UK research.

The finding comes from the EPIC-Norfolk study, which is tracking the impact of diet on the long-term health of 25,000 men and women.

The researchers also carried out a systematic review of previously published evidence on the links between chocolate and cardiovascular disease, involving almost 158,000 people.

The EPIC-Norfolk participants – 9,214 men and 11,737 women – were monitored for an average of almost 12 years.

“Higher chocolate intake is associated with a lower risk of future cardiovascular events”

Study authors

Around 20% of participants said they did not eat any chocolate, but among the others daily consumption averaged 7g – with some eating up to 100g.

Higher levels of consumption were associated with factors such as lower body mass index, hip ratio, systolic blood pressure, inflammatory proteins, and diabetes —all of which combined to provide a favourable CVD risk profile.

Eating more chocolate was also associated with higher energy intake and a diet containing more fat and carbohydrate, and less protein and alcohol.

The calculations showed that, compared with those who ate no chocolate, higher intake was linked to an 11% lower risk of CVD and a 25% lower risk of associated death. It was also associated with a 9% lower risk of hospital admission or death as a result of coronary heart disease.

The highest chocolate intake was similarly associated with a 23% lower risk of stroke, even after taking account of other potential risk factors.

Of relevant studies included in the systematic review, some found a significantly lower risk of both conditions associated with regular chocolate consumption.

The study authors, from the University of Aberdeen, said: “Cumulative evidence suggests that higher chocolate intake is associated with a lower risk of future cardiovascular events.”

They also pointed out that milk chocolate, often considered to be less healthy than dark chocolate, was more frequently eaten by the EPIC-Norfolk participants.

“This may indicate that not only flavonoids, but also other compounds, possibly related to milk constituents, such as calcium and fatty acids, may provide an explanation for the observed association,” they said in the journal Heart.

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Readers' comments (4)

  • At last, a useful piece of research.

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  • Thank goodness for small mercies :)

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  • Just checked the calories - just under 550. That's per day, then? I'm planning to incorporate it into my diet. 100g is one of those thin, value label bars, and I'm quite fond of these. I think when I have eaten 50g in one sitting, I tend to eat less later on, which isn't always true for me regarding other foods. The article states that it might not just be flavonoids, but other constituents. It does not detail how else one might be tip-top without a good dose of chocolate.

    I wonder then, if the low fat diet has been deemed not so good, I wonder how poor our health has become on following that low-fat advise? Who can tell.

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  • michael stone

    If we all ate everything these reports tell us would improve our health, I'm pretty sure that we would all be very over-weight.

    The one I was most struck by, was 'eating more apples reduces your risk (I think of a heart attack) as effectively as the drugs - a quick bit of maths, revealed that you would need to eat 9 apples per day, to actually do that !

    I'm not 'a receptive patient' - I eat chocolate, cheese, etc, and provided I don't become particularly overweight, I pay no great attention to what I eat, in respect of 'what I'm told I should be eating'. I prefer to eat things I enjoy eating.

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