Can Eating Chocolate A Day Help To Beat Stroke And Heart Disease?
You can lower your risks of stroke and heart disease by simply eating 100g of chocolate every day, according to a new study. In reference to the new findings that were published in the BMJ journal Heart, there is no evidence to suggest that reducing chocolate intake can lower the risk of cardiovascular disease. However, Research Communication Manager at the Stroke Association, Dr. Shamin Quardir, said that the new study builds up on previous ones that show a connection between higher intake of chocolate and lowered risk of stroke. However, Quardir said it is very hard to pinpoint a single dietary component that can positively or negatively affect the health of a person, but it is possible to lower your risk of stroke with regular exercises, healthy diet and attending blood pressure screening regularly.
The study was conducted in nearly 25,000 adult participants in Norfolk, England. It was meant to track the impact of diet on the long term health of these participants using questionnaires on food frequency and lifestyle. In addition, the researchers performed a systematic review of the globally published evidence on the links between chocolate and cardiovascular disease that involved nearly 158,000 contributors, inclusive of Norfolk participants.
For an average of 12 years that Norfolk participants were monitored, 14% experienced an episode of fatal and non-fatal coronary heart disease or stroke. 20% didn’t eat chocolate.
For participants who consumed higher amounts of chocolate, they looked younger and had healthier body weight. They also had a lower waist to hip ratio, reported fewer episodes of systolic blood pressure and engaged more in physical activities. Majority of heavy chocolate consumers didn’t become diabetic and had lower inflammatory proteins. All these are some of the factors that add up to form a favorable cardiovascular disease risk.
Participants who took a lot of chocolate preferred eating diets rich in fats and carbohydrates and less in protein and alcohol.
The researcher made calculations and found that participants who ate chocolate were 11% less likely to suffer from cardiovascular disease and 25% less likely to die as a result of the condition. In addition, it was found that heavy chocolate eaters were 9% less likely to be admitted in hospitals or die as a result of coronary heart disease, after dietary factors were accounted for.
For the 16,000 participants whose inflammatory protein (CRP) levels were recorded. Those who ate higher amounts of chocolate were 18% less likely to suffer from stroke, after all other potential risk factors were taken into account.
Out of all the nine relevant studies that were included in the systematic review, five of them assessed stroke and coronary heart disease outcome to demonstrate that the risk of both conditions were lowered by regular consumption of chocolate. In addition, chocolate was associated with 25% lowered risk of cardiovascular disease and 45% lowered risk of death from stroke.
Definitive Conclusions Can’t Be Made
Being an observational study, definitive conclusions about cause and effect cannot be made. Researchers also noted that food questionnaires are not effective because they involve various levels of recall biasness and underestimation of food items consumed. Researchers also said that people who are prone to cardiovascular disease tend to eat less foods containing chocolate than those who are healthy, which may explain the results.
According to the researchers, there is cumulative evidence to suggest that consumption of higher amounts of chocolate is liked lower risks of cardiovascular event in the future. In addition, dark chocolate, which is considered as healthier, may also have some beneficial effects like milk chocolate commonly eaten by the Norfolk participants. Professor Phyo Myint, the chairperson in Old Age medicine at Aberdeen University, said that this indicates flavonoids and other compounds in milk chocolate, such as calcium and fatty acids, could be playing some parts for the association that was observed. They also concluded that that people concerned at the risk of cardiovascular disease should not avoid eating chocolate.
Other Chocolate Health Benefits
Previous studies have shown that chocolate comes with many health benefits, such as lowering cholesterol, reducing loss of memory, reducing stress and protecting the sin against damages caused by sun exposure.
Other Experts Opinion
According to Aedin Cassidy, Professor of Nutrition at the University of East Anglia, in United Arab Emirates, more long term trials should be carried out to understand the importance of chocolate for heart health.
Dr Tim Chico, Consultant Cardiologist at the University of Sheffield, said that although the new findings add to the benefits of chocolate, it can also lead to rapid weight gain, which can equally put you at an increased risk of cardiovascular disease. He added that this study suggests that if you have a healthy weight, eating chocolate in moderation doesn’t detectibly increase the risk of heart disease, but can have some benefits as well.
Professor Naveed Sattar, of Glasgow University, said that it could be that some participants under-reported how much chocolate they were consuming because they didn’t want to tell the truth since they should try to avoid foods rich in calories like chocolate.
Although several studies have shown that eating chocolate regularly comes with a host of health benefits, most experts warn that it should be done in moderation. Enjoying occasional chocolate treats can be beneficial but overindulging can lead to weight gain and put you at an increased risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke. Take no more than 100 grams of chocolate a day to cut down your risks of cardiovascular disease as we wait what experts will discover next on these bars!
Ella James is an aspiring author who is pursuing Health Services Administration degree from St. Petersburg College. She is an active contributor to Consumer Health Digest. Her interests include reading and writing about Health Conditions, Fitness, Diet and Weight loss. Get connected with her on Facebook and Twitter.