According to research, consuming chocolate a minimum of once each week is associated with an 8% reduced risk of heart disease. The study indicates that chocolate helps in keeping the blood vessels of the heart healthy.1✅ JOURNAL REFERENCE
Research has previously found chocolate to be of benefit for the lining of blood vessels as well as blood pressure. The researchers wished to determine if the coronary arteries, the blood vessels that supply the heart, are affected by chocolate consumption.
They carried out an analysis of studies from the previous 50 years looking at the link between the consumption of chocolate and coronary artery disease, which is when the coronary arteries become blocked. The analysis consisted of 6 studies involving 336,289 individuals who reported their consumption of chocolate.
During an average follow-up of about 9 years, 14,043 of the study participants ended up developing coronary artery disease and 4,667 of them experienced a heart attack which is when coronary artery disease has progressed to the point that blood flow to the heart is all of a sudden blocked.
In comparison with eating chocolate less than once each week, eating chocolate more than once each week was linked to an 8% reduced coronary artery disease risk.
Chocolate has heart-healthy nutrients which include stearic acid, polyphenols, methylxanthines, and flavonoids that could help in reducing inflammation and increasing good HDL cholesterol.
The study didn’t look at whether any specific kind of chocolate is more beneficial and whether there’s a perfect portion size. Although chocolate seems to be promising for the prevention of coronary artery disease, more research is required to determine what type and the amount of chocolate that should be recommended.
While it isn’t clear how much chocolate is optimal, the researchers cautioned against overeating. Although the coronary arteries appear to be protected by the consumption of moderate quantities of chocolate, large quantities probably don’t offer protection. The fat, milk, sugar, and calories in commercially available products must be considered, especially in obese and diabetic individuals.
A limitation of the study is that it didn’t consider other foods and beverages the individuals consumed, or how much exercise they got. It’s certainly possible that study participants who consumed more chocolate had healthier diets or better physical fitness which could be why they were more unlikely to get coronary artery disease.
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