New Study Proves Chocolate Treats Reduce Risk of Heart Attack and Stroke

Category: Health / Aug 29, 2011 2:46PM EDT
Chocoholics have been given a solid scientific reason to celebrate. According to a new study, eating chocolate – but not too much - can benefit your heart. Regular consumption of chocolaty treats may reduce the risk of heart disease by more than a third, and according to research, it can also cut the risk of stroke by nearly a third. Dr. Oscar Franco, the lead author of the study, worked with his team to analyze a slew of existing data to understand if a link between chocolate and positive cardiovascular health exists. After sorting through seven previous studies involving approximately 114,000 participants, the researchers found that - when pooled together - the people who consumed the most chocolate were 37 percent less likely to develop a heart attack and 29 percent less likely to suffer a stroke. While the studies did not distinguish between dark chocolate and other desserts, the researchers warned there are certainly some varieties that are healthier than others. When indulging in chocolate, eat in moderation and choose reduced calorie and reduced sugar brands or stick with dark chocolate. The health benefits of chocolate stem from its high content of poly-phenols, antioxidant compounds that boost the body's production of nitric oxide, which helps lower blood pressure. Poly-phenols can be found in a variety of foods and beverages, including multiple fruits, coffee and red wine. However, the researchers warned that the data does not confirm that chocolate will always lead to a healthier heart. In fact, more study is needed to determine whether chocolate, over other factors, actually leads to the lower cardiovascular risk. The research is being presented today at the European Society of Cardiology's conference in Paris.