March 30, 2010

Chocolate Could Be Good For The Heart

Research scheduled to be published on Wednesday shows that chocolate, in small amounts, can lower blood pressure and reduce a person's risk of heart disease.

According to the research, which was led by German Institute of Human Nutrition epidemiologist Dr. Brian Buijsse and published online in the European Heart Journal, one small square per day of dark chocolate could have a positive impact on health.

Buijsse and his team spent 10 years following more than 19,000 people between the ages of 35 and 65. They found that those who consumed an average of 7.5 grams of chocolate per day had lower blood pressure and were considerably less likely to suffer a heart attack or stroke than those who consumed lower amounts (an average of 1.7 grams per day).

"People who ate the most amount of chocolate were at a 39% lower risk than those with the lowest chocolate intakes," Buijsse said in a March 30 press release sent out by the European Society of Cardiology (ESC). "If people in the group eating the least amount of chocolate (of whom 219 per 10,000 had a heart attack or stroke) increased their chocolate intake by six grams a day, 85 fewer heart attacks and strokes per 10,000 people could be expected to occur over a period of about ten years."

"Small amounts of chocolate may help to prevent heart disease, but only if it replaces other energy-dense food, such as snacks, in order to keep body weight stable," he added, warning that consumers should not take in more calories to add chocolate to their diets, nor should they use the sweets to replace fruits, vegetables, or other healthy food products.

ESC spokesman Frank Ruschitzka, Professor of Cardiology and Director of Heart Failure/Transplantation at University Hospital Zurich, noted that "science has demonstrated quite convincingly that dark chocolate particularly, with a cocoa content of at least 70%, reduces oxidative stress and improves vascular and platelet function. However, before you rush to add dark chocolate to your diet, be aware that 100g of dark chocolate contains roughly 500 calories. As such, you may want to subtract an equivalent amount of calories, by cutting back on other foods, to avoid weight gain."


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