Tuesday, April 13, 2010

A Chocolate A Day May Keep The Doctor Away

A square of dark chocolate daily may reduce risks of stroke and heart attack, according to a new study published this month in the European Heart Journal by researchers at the German Institute of Human Nutrition in Nuthetal, Germany.

This German study, the largest of its kind so far, followed 20,000 subjects for a period of 8 years. Those who ate the most chocolate - about 7.5 grams per day, equivalent to a chocolate square or a bite - had lower blood pressure, a 48% lower risk of stroke and 27% lower risk of heart attack compared to those who ate the least amount of chocolate - about 1.7 grams per day. A follow-up questionnaire seemed to indicate that dark chocolate was better than milk chocolate, and that white chocolate was not effective at all - an analysis that has been made by several recent studies.

At the same time, researchers cautioned that eating larger quantities of chocolate may not have the same positive effect because of the large caloric content and amount of saturated fat. They advise that, for those interested in following a daily chocolate diet including a chocolate square per day, it would be best to have it replace some other caloric intake.

This study, while promising, is not definitive, since it is a post facto statistical analysis, and may have been influenced by other factors in the participants. A more definitive study would involve a double blind experiment, with participants being divided in a test group and a control group.

Interested in reading more about it? The results of this study were widely discussed, in the Associated Press, WEbMD, TheHeart, the Washington Post, CNN, ABC News and more. The original press release is quite informative, and the full study is available.

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