Consumption of chocolate once a week could reduce the risk of heart disease, according to a new study published in the journal of the European Society of Cardiology.
“Our study indicates that chocolate helps maintain cardiovascular health. Previous clinical research has shown that chocolate has a beneficial effect on both blood pressure and the condition of blood vessel walls,” quoted Chayakrit Krittanawong, a researcher at Baylor University of Medicine, Texas. one of the authors is the PhysOrg scientific knowledge news portal. “I wanted to see if it affected the coronary arteries and if so, it had a good or harmful effect,” he added.
Researchers have analyzed studies over the past five decades that have examined the relationship between chocolate consumption and coronary heart disease. Their analysis included six studies looking at the chocolate consumption of 336,289 people.
A nine-year follow-up study found that 14,043 of the participants had coronary heart disease and 4,667 had a heart attack.
Those who consumed chocolate more than once a week had an 8 percent lower risk of coronary heart disease, compared with those who ate chocolate less than once a week.
Chocolate contains heart-healthy nutrients, including flavonoids, polyphenols, muscle-relaxing methylxanthines, useful saturated fatty acids, stearic acid, which have anti-inflammatory effects and increase levels of good cholesterol, HDL, the researcher explained.
He said they have not looked at what type of chocolate is more beneficial to the heart or how much is ideal for consumption. “Chocolate seems promising in the prevention of coronary heart disease, but further research is needed to show how much and what kind of chocolate can be recommended for this purpose,” he added.
However, Krittanawong was wary of excessive chocolate consumption. “A moderate amount seems to protect the coronary arteries, probably a large amount of no. The amount of calories, sugar, milk and fat in chocolate should be taken into account, especially for diabetics and the overweight,” he explained.