Attention chocolate lovers: your favorite sweet just got added to a list comprising heart-healthy foods. The findings of a new study revealed eating chocolate at least once a week can reduce a person’s risk of heart diseases.
Experts at the Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, found chocolate helps the heart’s blood vessels remain healthy.
Previous studies have demonstrated chocolate consumption was beneficial for both blood pressure levels as well as the lining of blood vessels. But researchers at Baylor College of Medicine wanted to find out if chocolate had any impact on the coronary arteries — the blood vessels that supply blood to the heart.
The researchers carried out a combined analysis of studies from the past 50 years, examining the association between chocolate consumption and the blockage of the coronary arteries. Their analysis included six different studies and 336,289 participants in total.
Upon following these people for almost nine years, here’s what they found:
However, the study didn’t find out if any particular kind of chocolate was more beneficial and what the ideal portion size was to ensure heart health benefits.
“Chocolate contains heart-healthy nutrients such as flavonoids, methylxanthines, polyphenols and stearic acid which may reduce inflammation and increase good cholesterol (high-density lipoprotein or HDL cholesterol). Chocolate appears promising for the prevention of coronary artery disease, but more research is needed to pinpoint how much and what kind of chocolate could be recommended,” the study’s lead author Dr. Chayakrit Krittanawong told European Society of Cardiology.
The researchers opined moderate amounts of chocolate could protect the coronary arteries while it is unlikely large quantities will do so. They also warned the public they should consider the number of calories, milk, sugar and fat content in the commercially available products.
Previous research studies have pointed out dark chocolate is richer in health-boosting antioxidants than fruits like blueberries and cranberries.