In a recent study published in the British Medical Journal,
health experts have claimed that that eating up to two bars a day appears to
protect against heart disease and stroke.
It is the latest research to highlight the another added
benefit of chocolate which has also been shown to reduce memory loss, prevent
diabetes, reduce stress, protect the skin against sun damage and lower
Although dark chocolate has long been known to have health
benefits, the new study found that milk chocolate may also provide valuable
nutrients which lower the chance of heart problems.
The study was conducted by heart researchers at the
University of Aberdeen looked at the snacking habits of 21,000 people over 12
years. They found that eating up to 100g of chocolate every day lowered the
risk of dying from heart disease during that time by 25 per cent. The chance of
suffering a stroke also fell by 23 per cent.
Around one in five (20%) participants said they did not eat
any chocolate but among those that did, daily consumption averaged 7g with some
eating up to 100g.
Those who ate the most also were also found to be younger,
have a lower weight, waist to hip ratio and blood pressure, and were less
likely to have diabetes and more likely to carry out regular physical
activity - all of which add up to a
favourable cardiovascular disease risk profile according to the researchers
The researchers also carried out a review of the available
published evidence on the links between chocolate and cardiovascular disease,
involving almost 158,000 people.
In each of the relevant studies they found a significantly
lower risk stroke and heart disease associated with regular chocolate
The researchers however suggested that the findings could be
partially skewed by mis-reporting of food intake or the fact that people with a
higher heart disease risk profile eat less chocolate and foods containing it
than those who are healthier.
Professor Phyo Myint, Chair in Old Age Medicine at Aberdeen
University, said: "Our study concludes that cumulative evidence suggests
higher chocolate intake is associated with a lower risk of future
Commenting on the study Professor Naveed Sattar, of the
University of Glasfow said: “It may be that some folk are, perhaps
substantially, under-reporting how much chocolate they eat since they really do
not wish to tell the truth because they know they should try to avoid high
density calories like chocolate.
“I would not be rushing out to buy chocolate for a treat –
rather, if peckish, a piece or two of fruit is far better, and comes from
Despite agreeing that new study added to growing evidence
that chocolate could be beneficial to health health experts warned against over indulging.
Dr Tim Chico, Reader in Cardiovascular Medicine and
Consultant Cardiologist at the University of Sheffield, said: “These studies
taken together suggest that there might be some health benefits from eating
“However, it is also clear that chocolate has the potential
to increase weight, which is unequivocally bad for cardiovascular health.
“The message I take from this study is that if you are a
healthy weight, then eating chocolate (in moderation) does not detectibly
increase risk of heart disease and may even have some benefit.”
"There is evidence from other studies that have
randomised people to be given chocolate that this can have effects that might
reduce cardiovascular disease, such as a reduction in blood pressure.
"I would not advise my patients to increase their
chocolate intake based on this research, particularly if they are
Dr Shamim Quadir, Research Communications Manager at the
Stroke Association, said: “While this study builds on previous research and
suggests a link between a higher intake of chocolate (up to 100g per day) and
lower risk of stroke, it is very hard to establish a single dietary component
that will have a positive, or negative, effect on the health of an individual.
“We all can reduce our risk of stroke by exercising
regularly, consuming a healthy, balanced diet and getting our blood pressure
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