Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Limited Chocolate Intake Lowers Heart Disease Risk

More good news about chocolate: one to two servings of dark chocolate per week may lower your risk of heart disease by up to 32%, according to a recent Harvard study.

The study, published this month in Circulation: Heart Failure, a journal published by the American Heart Association, by researchers form the Beth Israel Medical Center at Harvard and from the Karolinska Institute in Sweden, focused on studying links between chocolate intake and heart disease. It surveyed data gathered over a 9-year period from almost 32,000 Swedish women between the ages of 48 and 83, and concluded that subjects with an intake of one to two weekly servings of between 19 and 30 grams saw a reduction of 32% in the risk of heart failure, while those with one o three monthly servings of the same size saw a 26% reduction.

At the same time, larger amounts seemed counterproductive: subjects who had 3 to 6 servings per week saw an increase of 9% in heart failure risk, while subjects with at least a daily serving saw a 23% higher risk of heart failure. Dr. Murray Mittleman, lead researcher of the study, hypothesizes that the lack of a protective effect among women eating chocolate every day is probably due to the additional calories gained from eating chocolate instead of more nutritious foods.

Dr. Linda Van Horn, spokesperson for the American Heart Association, cautions that Swedish chocolate contains, on average, a higher percentage of cocoa than American chocolate (30% for Swedish dark chocolate vs. 15% for US dark chocolate, according to Elizabeth Mostofsky, the paper’s first author).  Dr. Suzanne Steinbaum,  also an AHA spokesperson, recommends that patients look for higher cocoa content -- 70% or greater -- when choosing chocolate.

Multiple studies in the past 15 years have shown heart benefits associated with chocolate intake, in particular for dark chocolate. We published here the results of a particularly interesting one, which concluded that daily servings averaging 7.5 grams per day was shown to be associated  with a 27% decrease in the risk of heart failure and a 48% decrease in stroke risk.

Our conclusion - chocolate may be good for you - but only in moderation...

Want to read more about it? Try the study abstract, the New York Times, MedPage Today, or The Local (Swedish news in English).

The study

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Great new when we hear that eating chocolate can be as healthy as using an adjustable height desk. I think I will have a snack now.

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