Chocolate Lovers: Studies Show Your Favorite Sweet Offers Heart Benefits

Angela Jenkins

| 3 min read

We have heard over the past few years that chocolate is good for our hearts. Is it too good to be true?
No matter what your favorite kind of chocolate is, each type has a new reputation. Whether you prefer dark chocolate, milk chocolate, white chocolate, bitter or sweet chocolate, there is good news for all chocolate lovers. Eating chocolate can reduce the chances of getting heart disease according to a new study from the British Medical Journal.

I’m Here for the Chocolate

The study looked at 100,000 people from seven previous chocolate studies done in the past and found that chocolate offers some benefits when comparing chocolate consumption and cardiovascular outcomes. Five of the seven studies found:
  • 37% lower risk of heart disease of those with the highest chocolate consumption
  • 29% lower risk of a stroke than those who ate less chocolate
Although it is not 100% clear exactly why, researchers are speculating it has something to do with chocolate’s antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that help with reduction in blood pressure and improve insulin resistance.

Word from the Wise

Let’s not get too excited here. Even though chocolate has shown some benefits in reducing heart disease, there are a lot of other factors to consider when buying chocolate in bulk. Think about this:
  • The chocolate eaters in the study were not evaluated for their level of physical activity and if they ate a healthy diet, both of which are proven to lower chances of heart disease.
  • Chocolate is high in fat and calories, which can increase the chances of diabetes and weight gain that can lead to a many other health issues. The small benefit chocolate provides does not trump the potential health problems that could occur in this case.
  • The study didn’t specify what type of chocolate was eaten, but the better choice would be reduced-sugar and reduced-calorie types of chocolate.
  • On average, one ounce of chocolate would be an appropriate serving size. This is about the size of half of a Hershey’s Chocolate Bar and provides around 105 calories per one ounce.

The Bottom Line

As with anything, moderation is the key. I do think that consuming chocolate can be a good thing for some individuals who do not have any health issues to be concerned with.
For those who may have health challenges or want to prevent certain conditions like heart disease, diabetes and/or being overweight, I would concentrate on other controllable lifestyle measures that have been proven to reduce these conditions:
  • Eat a healthy diet
  • Regular physical activity (at least 30 minutes most days)
  • Quit smoking or using tobacco
  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Get regular health screenings to monitor blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar levels
Overall, I think this study provides proof that indulgences are not always a bad thing. The key here, as I mentioned, is to keep these indulgences under control.
What are your thoughts and opinions on this topic?
Photo credit: Rev Dan Catt

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