A new study conducted by the University of Aberdeen in Scotland found that, compared with people who ate no chocolate, people who consumed up to 100 grams (or four ounces) of chocolate had an 11% lower risk of cardiovascular disease, and a 25% lower risk of associated death. The research also linked higher chocolate consumption with a 9 percent lower risk of hospitalization or death from coronary heart disease, and a 23 percent lower risk of stroke.
The Aberdeen study analyzed date from almost 21,000 adults participating in the EPIC-Norfolk study, which is following the effects of diet on the long-term health of 25,000 male and female adults in Norfolk. Twenty percent of the participants reported they did not eat any chocolate. Among the 80 percent who did, their daily consumption averaged 7 grams, or one-quarter ounce. Some participants ate up to 100 grams daily.
Interestingly, the people who ate the most chocolate tended to be younger, and had a lower weight, waist to hip ratio, and blood pressure. They had lower rates of diabetes, and were more physically active. All these factors, of course, comprise a beneficial cardiovascular disease risk profile.
The study found a higher consumption of chocolate also correlated with higher energy intake and a diet higher in fats and carbohydrates, and lower in protein and alcohol. Although dark chocolate is generally thought to have more health benefits, the researchers point out that the participants in the study were more likely to consume milk chocolate.
The author of the study, Professor Phyo Myint of the School of Medicine and Dentistry, said the study concludes that an accumulation of evidence suggests higher consumption of chocolate is associated with “a lower risk of future cardiovascular events.” Dr. Tim Chico, of the University of Sheffield, said this study and others cannot say definitively whether the chocolate is the cause of the protective effect, but it does add to the evidence.
Researchers do warn that too much chocolate can cause weight gain, and they don’t recommend adding more chocolate to your diet if you are overweight. But if you are not trying to lose weight, do not be afraid to pick up that chocolate bar. It’s good for you!