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No need to cut out chocolate for heart health

Kathleen Blanchard's picture
Is chocolate good for your heart?

Findings published online in the Journal Heart suggests chocolate can be enjoyed even by people concerned about their risk for heart attack and stroke.


Chocolate was associated with a lower chance of being hospitalized or dying from heart disease in a new, large analysis.

The study

Included were almost 21,000 adults taking part in the EPIC-Norfolk study, which is an ongoing research project tracking the impact of diet on long-term health among 25,000 men and women in England. Food intake and coronary events - fatal and non-fatal- or stroke is tracked via surveys and questionnaires.

Researchers also reviewed studies including 158,000 people--including the EPIC study participants and the link between chocolate consumption and long-term health outcomes.

They found a correlation between lower risk of heart disease and stroke that they can say was definitely from chocolate, but they also didn't find evidence that the treat should be avoided by people with high blood pressure or other coronary risk factors.

There was an association between eating chocolate and an 11 percent lower chance of cardiovascular disease compared to people who don't eat chocolate.

There was also a 25 percent lower chance of dying from heart disease associated with consuming chocolate.

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Higher chocolate intake was linked to a 25 percent lower chance of stroke, even in the presence of other risk factors that can include age, family history, gender, race, diabetes, high blood pressure, smoking, high cholesterol and other forms of heart disease.

Should you eat chocolate for heart health?

The researchers do say the study is not proof positive that you can lower your chances of heart attack and stroke by eating chocolate. Surveys can be misleading.

See: Mystery of dark chocolate's health benefits solved

But they do suggest if you have cardiovascular risk factors there may not be any need to eliminate chocolate from your diet.

They conclude: "There does not appear to be any evidence to say that chocolate should be avoided in those who are concerned about cardiovascular risk." It is also possible, though not conclusive, that chocolate is indeed a heart healthy snack because it containts high levels of flavanols, known to promote health.


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