Women's health * Men's health * 50+ health * Healthy living

Chocolate lowers heart disease risk

Chocolate lowers heart disease risk Latest study confirms existing research

Eating lots of chocolate may lower your risk of developing heart disease by one third, a new study claims.

Researchers from the University of Cambridge reviewed seven studies involving 100,000 people to evaluate the effects of eating chocolate on cardiovascular events like heart attack and stroke.

For each study, they compared the group with the highest chocolate consumption against the group with the lowest consumption.

Five studies reported a beneficial link between higher levels of chocolate consumption and the risk of cardiovascular events.

"Highest levels of chocolate consumption were associated with a 37% reduction in cardiovascular disease and a 29% reduction in stroke compared with lowest levels," the authors wrote.

No significant reduction was found in relation to heart failure.

The findings confirm recent studies that found eating chocolate has a positive influence on health due to its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. This includes reducing blood pressure and improving insulin sensitivity.

However, the researchers, led by Dr Oscar Franco, said further studies are needed to see if it is indeed chocolate that causes the reduction in risk, or some other factor.

The World Health Organisation predicts that by 2030 nearly 23.6 million people will die from heart disease.

The authors warned that chocolate is high in calories, and eating too much could lead to weight gain, and raise the risk of diabetes and heart disease.

However, given its health benefits, the authors said the reduction of fat and sugar content in chocolate products should be explored.

This article was published on Tue 30 August 2011

Image © IKO - Fotolia.com

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