Chocolate Is Good for You

German study finds that small daily doses of chocolate reduce heart attack risk by 39 percent.  A small daily dose of chocolate could reduce heart attack risk.   This is the finding of a study by German researchers who followed nearly 20,000 people over eight years, taking note of their diet and exercise habits.  Participants who ate an average of six grams of chocolate every day – equivalent to a single square of a chocolate bar – were 39 percent less likely to have a heart attack or stroke, according to an article in the European Heart Journal.

Earlier studies found that small amounts of dark chocolate could be heart healthy, but the German study is the first to track the effects over an extended timeframe.  The researchers believe that Flavonols found in chocolate, vegetables and red wine help the muscles of blood vessels widen and cause a drop in blood pressure.  “It’s a bit too early to come up with recommendations that people should eat more chocolate, but if people replace sugar or high-fat snacks with a little piece of dark chocolate, that might help,” said Brian Buijsse, a nutritional epidemiologist at the German Institute of Human Nutrition.  The individuals in the study had no history of heart disease, shared similar habits for risk factors such as smoking and exercise, and had similar Body Mass Indexes.

Physicians warn that eating a lot of chocolate normally leads to weight gain, typically a risk factor for heart disease and strokes.  “This is not a prescription to eat more chocolate,” said Dr. Robert Eckel, a professor at the University of Colorado and a past president of the American Heart Association.

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