Cho­co­late may be good for your heart, study sug­gests

The China Post - - LIFE -

New re­search has added to ten­ta­tive ev­i­dence that eat­ing cho­co­late in mod­est quan­ti­ties may be good for the heart, its in­ves­ti­ga­tors said on Tues­day.

Sci­en­tists in Bri­tain looked at data from nearly 21,000 peo­ple who filled out ques­tion­naires about their lifestyle, and had their health mon­i­tored for more than 11 years.

Their av­er­age daily con­sump­tion was 7 grams (0.25 ounces) of cho­co­late, rang­ing from none to 100 grams.

The top fifth of cho­co­late-eaters were 12 per­cent less likely to de- velop heart dis­ease and 23 per­cent less likely to suf­fer a stroke com­pared to the bot­tom fifth of con­sumers, the re­searchers found.

The study, pub­lished in the Bri­tish jour­nal Heart, noted that most con­sumers of the con­fec­tionary ate milk cho­co­late, not dark cho­co­late which fa­mously has a higher per­cent­age of pro­tec­tive mol­e­cules called flavonoids.

“This may in­di­cate that not only flavonoids, but also other com­pounds, pos­si­bly re­lated to milk con­stituents, such as cal­cium and fatty acids, may pro­vide an ex­pla­na­tion for the ob­served as­so­ci­a­tion,” it said.

The team, headed by Phyo Myint of the Univer­sity of Aberdeen in Scot­land, ad­mit­ted the probe had lim­i­ta­tions.

The study was ob­ser­va­tional, mean­ing it could not show cause and ef­fect, merely an as­so­ci­a­tion which may be cir­cum­stan­tial.

Another ques­tion mark was to be found in “re­verse cau­sa­tion”: par­tic­i­pants who knew they had car­dio­vas­cu­lar prob­lems may have fol­lowed a health­ier diet and eaten less cho­co­late.

The team also did a re­view of other pub­lished stud­ies, cov­er­ing more than 130,000 peo­ple in to­tal, and said they had found a simi- larly ben­e­fi­cial as­so­ci­a­tion with reg­u­lar cho­co­late con­sump­tion.

“Cu­mu­la­tive ev­i­dence sug­gests that higher cho­co­late in­take is as­so­ci­ated with a lower risk of fu­ture car­dio­vas­cu­lar events,” it said.

“There does not ap­pear to be any ev­i­dence to say that cho­co­late should be avoided in those who are con­cerned about car­dio­vas­cu­lar risk.”

A cou­ple of squares of cho­co­late are around 16 grams, and an av­er­age bar of cho­co­late about 50 grams.

Com­men­ta­tors not in­volved in the re­search were cau­tious, not­ing too much cho­co­late can lead to weight gain, which is bad for the heart.

“You can’t draw a med­i­cal con­clu­sion from this study,” said Ar­naud Co­caul, a nu­tri­tion­ist at the Pi­tie Salpetriere Hos­pi­tal in Paris.

“Peo­ple who re­frain from eat­ing cho­co­late are not nec­es­sar­ily those who eat the most bal­anced diet.”

Added Tim Chico, a car­di­ol­o­gist at the Univer­sity of Sheffield in north­ern Eng­land: “I would not ad­vise my pa­tients to in­crease their cho­co­late in­take based on this re­search, par­tic­u­larly if they are over­weight,” in re­marks to Bri­tain’s Science Media Cen­tre (SMC).

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