Dark Chocolate's Sweet Treat for the Heart

Dark chocolate consumption may lower risk of heart attack and stroke

(RxWiki News) Yet another study suggests dark chocolate may be a tasty and inexpensive way to protect your heart. Even better for chocolate fans, the new research suggests you should eat it every day.

Eating dark chocolate daily may protect from heart attacks and strokes in those with metabolic syndrome.

This group's risk factors include hypertension and obesity, that increase the risk of diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

"Eat dark chocolate with a high percent of cocoa solids."

Christopher Reid, a professor from the department of epidemiology and preventive medicine at Monash University in Australia, found that the addition of dark chocolate containing at least 60 percent cocoa solids and rich in flavonoids could offer long-term protection for the heart. Most previous research has focused on short-term effects.

During the study researchers used a mathematical formula to predict the cost effectiveness and long-term health effects of daily dark chocolate consumption in 2,013 individuals at a high risk of heart disease. All of the participants had high blood pressure and met criteria for metabolic syndrome.

None had cardiovascular disease, diabetes or took blood pressure medications.

Researchers found that daily dark chocolate consumption for 10 years could potentially prevent 15 fatal cardiovascular events, such as heart attacks or strokes, and 70 non-fatal heart events per 100,000 people treated. Much of that reduction in risk was attributed to the blood pressure and cholesterol-lowering impact of dark chocolate.

If only 80 percent of individuals complied with the daily chocolate therapy, 10 fatal and 70 non-fatal heart events could be avoided, still enough to be considered an effective intervention, investigators found.

The study did not examine dark chocolate's impact on heart failure.

Researchers called the intervention cost effective, noting that it would cost approximately $31 to $58 a year for high risk individuals.

Investigators only included dark chocolate in the research, which is believed to offer more of a protective benefit than white or milk chocolate because of a higher flavonoid content.

The study was published in the British Medical Journal.

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Review Date: 
May 30, 2012